The New Mormonism


September 2, 2012 by P. J. Toscano

The Mormon Restoration has reinvented itself several times since 1820. I am aware, directly and indirectly, of the following seven layered reconfigurations of Mormonism each of which continues to influence, to one degree or another, the LDS community. The dates I have given for each denote my estimate of the period of greatest influence of each of these major Mormon cultural permutations:

1. Ancient Mormonism (1820-1844): “Ancient Mormonism” is my term for the theological contributions of the revelations and teachings of Joseph Smith and to the interpretive gloss he placed upon the Old and New Testaments. I was converted to Ancient Mormonism and prefer it still, even though I do not accept as inspired all Joseph Smith’s actions and choices, especially with respect to the practice of polygamy. I do not look back on these 24 years as a “golden age.” I do see them, however, as a period of unparalleled scriptural output.  Nearly 80% of the Mormon cannon became available by 1834, an additional small amount became available by 1839; between 1839 and 1844 Joseph Smith delivered his great hermeneutical discourses on the nature of God and priesthood and formulated the temple endowment as the mechanism for investing men and women with priesthood fullness.  Nothing like this prodigious output ever occurred again. In my estimation the heart of Mormonism lies in the heterodox revelations of this period.

2. Pioneer Mormonism (1844 -1906): I never had much enthusiasm for this brand of Mormonism although I appreciate the sacrifice of those who made the trek west and colonized the Great Basin Kingdom. However, I was never mesmerized by six-gun and barbed-wire tales of the American West probably because my antecedents were Sicilians who first entered the country through Ellis Island in the early 20th century. I was never a fan of Brigham Young. For awhile I accepted the notion that a theocratic kingdom stretching from Calgary Alberta Canada down to Colonia Juarez Mexico and kicking westward beyond Las Vegas Nevada to San Bernardino California was a workable solution for the gathering of the Saints as a prelude to enactments of law to counter human frailty and folly.  However, I soon rejected the idea of law as a remedy for human nature because it depended almost entirely upon an authoritarianism inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.

3. Accommodation Mormonism (1906 -1945): I had mixed feelings about post-manifesto Mormonism. I recognized that the practice of polygamy (multiple marriages for both men and women) was impractical and unsustainable.  I also recognized that reducing polygamy to polygyny (one man married to many women) was even worse because polygyny instantiates patriarchy and the male view of women, equating the value of one male to the value of many females. I was glad to see this practice terminated. But I was not happy to see, in this period, the beginnings of the rejection of Mormon heterodoxy as the LDS Church struggled to gain greater and greater acceptance within American culture.

4. Conservative Mormonism (1945-1965): I could never accept the influence on Mormonism of Ezra Taft Benson, the John Birch Society, and the pro-McCarthy elements that turned the Latter-day Saints from their left-leaning communitarian roots toward an intolerant obsession with purity and American/Mormon exceptionalism that is the hallmark of the secular and religious right.

5. Correlated Mormonism (1965-1985): Initially, I was enthusiastic about this brand of Mormonism because it promised to “bring again Zion,” which I erroneously understood to mean a return to Ancient Mormon teachings, which seem to me to be the only reason for becoming or remaining a Mormon. I soon realized that this promise, alas, was but a pretense for increasing the authoritarian control of LDS leaders over every department of the Church and every significant facet of the lives of its members.

6. Corporate Mormonism (1985 to the present): Initially inspired by the fiscal pragmatism of N. Eldon Tanner, this expression of Mormonism reached its apex under the hand of Gordon B. Hinckley. Corporate Mormonism is the religion of money, power, politics, and ambition that occupies most of the waking thoughts of LDS Church leaders and draws them ineluctably from their spiritual ministry into a temporal administry—for this brand of Mormonism I cannot find words strong enough to express my contempt. And finally:

7. The New Mormonism (beginning circa 2002): Of all the earlier Mormonisms that have hatched out and still influence and engage the Saints, this most recent brand is the most detestable and dangerous. It is potent because it is simple. It is simple because it ignores both Mormon theology and Mormon history. It is intelligent but unread; opinionated but uninformed. It prefers anecdote to analysis, quips to argument, action to contemplation. It buys acceptance by selling off Mormon authenticity. It appeals alike to leaders and members, old and young, males and females, active and less-active, conservative and liberal. This is the Mormonism displayed by Mitt and Ann Romney, by Harry Reid, by Orrin Hatch, by Gayle Ruzicka, and by other celebrated Mormon faithful. It is the Mormonism of BYU, of the Stakes and Wards. It is the Mormonism of the Bloggernacle and of general conference. It is the crab-grass of the Restoration. It has taken over in a decade. It’s as if pods were replacing church members. But there is no invasion of body snatchers. There is only a marked disassociation and an accelerated flight from Ancient Mormonism’s quest for holiness to the New Mormonism’s quest for success—yes, worldly success—that hollow, joyless, feckless, swiftly passing, rancid tasting corruption that has caused the declination and doom of every true religion ever revealed to humankind.

The success obsession, which has always lurked in the margins of Mormonism, is now its reason for being: success in the home, success in finance, success in politics, success in sports, success in church, success in every department of life.  This obsessive preoccupation with achievement, accomplishment, and exceptionalism is the root of evil, of competition, conflict, exploitation and violence. It thrives best in a culture that is shallow, sentimental, and self-centered—a culture very like that of the New Mormonism.

I am glad to read in The Mormon Worker so many intelligent and brave expressions of resistance to the toxic aspirations of this newest permutation of Mormon culture and look forward to reading more. I only wish these expressions could be channeled directly into the heads of the Latter-day Saints. But I sin in my wish.

47 thoughts on “The New Mormonism

  1. Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

    So which other church has priesthood authority? Or, “to whom shall we go?”

  2. LDSDPer says:


    well-written; it seems impossible to find the truth about Joseph Smith and polygamy–
    didn’t Fawn Brodie say that she wanted to discredit Joseph Smith but couldn’t prove he had actually ‘lived’ polygamy?
    And why is it only from Brigham Young’s mouth and from church movies (propaganda) made during the late 1900s and early 2000s that *we* learn that Brigham loved Joseph?
    Why did Brigham hate Emma? And who really did lie about polygamy? Did everyone lie, or did Joseph tell the truth and Brigham lie? Someone must have lied, because it can’t be proven that Joseph ever openly taught polygamy, and it was not in his character to be secretive.
    Perhaps I’ve been reading too much of the Price’s works (former re-organized who are disaffected from the Community of Christ but who assert that Joseph Smith’s words were twisted by/replaced by Brigham and others with regards to polygamy)–
    but I can no longer accept what I was taught from Barrett and Joseph Fielding Smith–that Joseph ‘restored’ polygamy and Brigham carried it on; something isn’t right there; how many records have been destroyed; how many have been forged, and how many have been falsified? And who has access to the records?
    On family search it can be seen that Joseph was sealed to a number of wives, but no descendants are shown, so what really happened?
    How much evidence has been tampered with; can the information that is available be trusted? After all, leaders have twisted the truth before to justify the end–

    I am a skeptic; I am not a trained historian, and I admit it–
    but I have become very skeptical about the entire debacle, and I do believe that the keys still remain with the apostles; I just believe that the corporation has taken the ‘church’ into captivity–and the corporation is rotten to the point of dissolution–

    I agree with you about the John Birch society, but what was wrong with Elder Benson encouraging: the reading of the Book of Mormon and applying it to *our* times; do you believe there are no evil and conspiring men today, or are they only ‘conservatives’. For what it is worth, I am not a conservative; I am not a liberal; I am nothing; I pick and choose from among all the political philosophies, and I have no party, and I know that Toscano is a highly educated historian, so I suppose I am the 80 pound weakling wrestling with the 190 pound heavyweight here–
    but I do believe intuition/feeling/spiritual experiences count for something, and I don’t think Ezra Taft Benson was ‘all bad’; yes, he argued violently with Hugh B. Brown (a family friend), but he was also very well known by a trusted family member and was known to be a good, honest man–and had been inside government (something few apostles had experienced)
    So, no, I don’t like Brigham either; I don’t suppose he was all ‘evil’, but I have come to distrust him; he was an opportunist, like Mitt Romney–
    A person can appreciate the words of Ezra Taft Benson and still be highly suspicious of Mitt Romney. I guess on our ‘feelings’/opinions of Mitt Romney we can firmly agree.

    Unless you are also anti-war–because there I stand firm.

    Whether you liked or disliked Benson, wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony if the worst secret combination of all had taken place between period 1 and period 2–?

    And had led to the current corporate corruption–

  3. gomw says:

    This is excellently researched and brilliantly presented. I agree with most, if not all of your observations but not necessarily your bleakness and some of your adjectives. For example, I find your “New Mormonism” phase dangerous but not detestable. I have too many loving brothers and sisters who blindly fall into the trap. My initial response would be to echo the wise question of Floyd Fitzgibbons:” What else do we have. But, never-the-less, I will try to express my views.

    I know,going in, that you are probably superior to me intellectually, but I do not intend to try to refute your views; rather to present my view and how your observations effect me. You observations are absolutely, in my view, irrefutable but some of your conclusions not totally supported by your observations.

    First of all, my faith in the Church and my practices, or intended practices (I am weak), are founded in “Ancient Mormonism.” That is what I believe. Any and all deviations or modifications, particularly those, not directly stated by our Church president, are subject to respectful question. I take my responses at the Temple Recommend interview seriously.

    I totally disagree with your perception of Pioneer Mormonism and I totally accept the use of civil government to enforce the principles of Zion as portrayed in Acts 4. I agree with being subject to kings, presidents, etc., as stated in the Articles of Faith and the duty of and our responsibility for civil government as articulated in D&C 134 (with the exception of verse 11). We are just not ready for anarchism and it would have the opposite effect of what I think you would expect.

    I totally agree with and am disturbed with period 4 – Conservative, Conservative Mormonism. This rattles my faith more than anything (except the ascendancy of Mitt Romney) and I am forced to go back to Period 1, and tell myself, “This is my Church and they can’t drive me out.”

    I can’t speak to period 5, 1965 – to 1985 because I was engaged in being exceptionally inactive – with all that goes with it.

    Corporate Mormonism and the new Mormonism worry me the most and makes me think of the ups and downs in the Book of Mormon and wonder if the second coming might not be preceded by another down period due to preoccupation with wealth and a distorted perception of “success” as it relates to why one is successful and why one is wealthy. The near worship of Mitt Romney by most American Mormons epitomizes this. I was encouraged this morning by my wife telling me that the broadcast on BYU warning of the preoccupation with wealth and the need to come back to the Lord.

    Thank you for the usual well prepared, well presented and thought provoking article. I’ll close by stating that the election of Mitt Romney and the inevitable failure of his economic policies if that is what he actually intends (who knows), will set proselyting back for years. The Mormon Church will be blamed for the failure just as we were for the passage of the gay marriage ban in California.

  4. Ron Madson says:

    Paul, the BOM prophesies and warns us gentiles as to what we would do with His “holy church of God” in the last days in both 3 Nephi 16 (“sin against the gospel”) and second half of Mormon 8 (‘pollute the Holy church of God’ and how we will do it and the evidence is somewhat clear and convincing). In your opinion are these seven configurations consistent with prophesies in the OT (Isaiah); BOM; and D&C? And if so how? Also, what will the eight configuration look like in your opinion? And do you believe the word “church” as we use it in our faith community consistent with our use of the phrase: “Kingdom of God”? My sentiments as to these configurations largely parallel your observations. My ancestors had the blessed ignorance to not know what was really going on in Nauvoo as it pertains to the abuses related to polygamy/polyandry and then the power play that Brigham was involved in to wrest power, etc; but as to Brother Young in the promised land, on my mother’s side they did become aware and it was only isolation that resulted in their remaining through configuration #2. What an interesting and peculiar people we are. I have my opinions as to stage 8 but more interested in your projections as this time.

  5. I find it interesting that so many of the “open minded” resort to Brigham bashing due to their dislike for polygamy. I’d suggest those of you who consider Brigham to be a usurper to study the Stephen Douglas prophecy made by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have found no greater witness to the faithfulness of Brigham Young and the Latter-day Saints than this (although I’m not saying one doesn’t exist). Besides the Civil War prophecy, the Stephen Douglas prophecy is probably the best documented and hardest to refute if Joseph’s prophecies. And which of the splinter groups was it that Stephen Douglas attacked before his untimely demise?

    • Ron Madson says:

      Brigham Young explicitly stated that he was not a prophet and that the only person who knew who should be called a prophet was Joseph Smith. I read Nibley’s “Brigham Young challenges the Saints” and he redeems Brigham with all the insightful zion like quotes by Brigham. But my aversion to Brigham goes far, far beyond Polygamy issue. But I need not go there in this forum. If someone wants to keep a warm spot for Brigham that I suggest not reading in depth the history of this era, and for sure do not read the
      “Succession Crisis” of 1844 “Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power.”

    • LDSDPer says:

      I’m sorry if I implied that Brigham Young was an ecclesiastical usurper. I do believe that, whether everything he did with regards to becoming the ‘head’ of the quorum of the 12 was honest or not . . . he did hold the keys and accomplished something good in helping the people to go West.
      As the person below says, he never claimed, however, to be a prophet.
      And 180 years later we depend upon his own words as to his relationship with Joseph Smith; he wasn’t even nearby when Joseph was murdered–
      I looked at the Stephen Douglas prophecy, and I don’t doubt that the church remained intact, in spite of abuses–
      My own ancestors were victims of some of those abuses and their own stories could have justified the lies being generalized in the “East”–
      but I don’t deny that there had to be a migration from the midwest; I don’t deny the government in Joseph’s time was unresponsive and dishonest. I just don’t see Brigham as the hero or necessarily as the honest man I used to believe he was. There have always been those who have had important work to do whose personalities were complicated and whose characters were flawed.

  6. I appreciate the above responses and will reply to them a seriatim:

    To Floyd:
    Each of the 7 permutations of Mormon culture has further disassociated the forms of the priesthood from the powers of heaven. When this disassociation becomes irreversible, then “amen” to the priesthood in Mormonism. If this happens, there is nowhere to go–except to God.

    To LDSDPer:
    Assuming that most of your questions are rhetorical, I will address only three. (1) I believe the fact that Joseph Smith was a polygamist was amply demonstrated in Todd Compton’s book SACRED LONELINESS: THE PLURAL WIVES OF JOSEPH SMITH. (2) Brigham Young feared (and possibly hated) Emma Smith, not merely because she opposed polygamy, but, from my perspective, because she held the best claim to succeed Joseph Smith;for she alone was anointed as joint president of the Anointed Quorum, the last council appointed by Joseph Smith to exercise authority over the whole Church and Kingdom of God. (3) Polygamy or multiple marriages (instituted by Joseph Smith) is not polygyny, the marriage of one man to many women (officially introduced as a rule of Church by Brigham Young); the revelations speak of the former not the latter, neither of which is practical and both of which are magnets for mortal abuse. (By the way, I am not a historian, let alone a highly trained one. I am a lawyer. I also have no personal il-will toward Ezra Benson and certainly no quarrel with his admonition to read the Book of Mormon. I did and do find unacceptable his political view and naivete.)

    To gomu:
    I agree with your observations, except your concept of the use of law to force Zion; but I may be misunderstanding you. I agree that we need laws to promote social justice in the secular world.

    To Ron:
    I personally see no connections between my 7 permutations of Mormonism with the writings of Isaiah or any of the prophets; nor can I foresee what the future might bring in the devolution of Mormonism, except that I cannot imagine how Zion–by which i mean the teachings of Ancient Mormonism–can now be redeemed. I fear that what awaits us, as I have said elsewhere, is the crowbar of events. I agree that if Mitt Romney becomes president, it is likely that his economics of greed and his callow foreign policies will fail and that his own party will blame the failure on both him and (to some extent) his religion. He who lives by the lie, dies by the lie.

    • gomw says:

      I probably didn’t express myself well. I meant to use laws to promote the principles of Zion – that is, wealth redistribution, which, as an amateur economist (BA in econ but never worked at it) I see as necessary to assure that the consumer has spending money.

    • AV says:

      P.J. Toscano,

      Do you have the reference of when Joseph anointed Emma as a Co-President of the Quorum and Church? That is fascinating and in line with what I believe righteous leaders do and what Christ did with his wife Mary. For I believe righteous women have every right and Priesthood power to lead that righteous men do, and that in righteous churches ‘husbands and wives’ lead equally together over the Church, stake or ward, etc. Just as our Heavenly Father and Heavenly mother lead equally together over their worlds of children.

      I do not believe in polygamy in any instance whatsoever. I believe Joseph’s clear warnings, teachings & scriptures against it, no matter how much opposing unproven hearsay others spread. I believe Joseph when he preached & published his warnings that everyone who falls for polygamy would be damned.

      I believe God would never expect us to base our testimonies on hearsay or rumor, no matter how many people believe it, as most people usually do. God has said over & over through prophets that the scriptures, especially the BoM, are our standard to judge all truth from error and false prophets from true prophets in the Church. I believe the Book of Mormon clearly condemns polygamy in every instance.

      I would never listen to or follow anyone who teaches or practices contrary to what Christ & the holy scriptures say. I believe Christ himself preached very clearly against polygamy, saying it is adultery for a married man to marry another woman, even if he divorced the 1st one (for the divorce isn’t valid and he is still married in God’s eyes, so he commits adultery if he remarries anyone else. The same would hold true for polygamy, so even Christ did not allow any room for such a thing as polygamy. And I believe in Christ.

  7. Brian Johnson says:

    excellent…..I love people who are paying attention.

  8. Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

    What’s with the bashing of the John Birch Society? Do those bashing it, know what the JBS stands for? Do they suppose it is in contradiction to the teachings of Christ and the Book of Mormon? Show me.

    • Ron Madson says:

      Floyd, if one looks at the core principles by the JBS they look wholesome and pure enough: However, how they were applied during phase 4 as outlined by Paul by some were less than stellar in our church history. My father worked at the department of agriculture for 30 years after WWII and for a while under Pres. Benson. Unfortunately, when some under color of the JBS endorsed the creation of blacklists and even going so far as accusing such men as Eisenhower as commies; then there was the opposition to the Civil Rights movement; and taking laissez faire capitalism and anti-“any form of perceived socialism as from the depths of hell.” Now I agree that such positions are misconstruing the mission of the JBS, but the reality is that many used it as cover to perpetuate much of the above. I remember my father becoming real uncomfortable while we lived in DC with the anti-communist movement that was associated with the JBS –especially some of the work of McCarthy types. Many LDS gravitated to the JBS at this time and today at least in Wasatch front there is a fairly strong strain of anti-communism that demands ideological purity.

    • gomw says:

      I know what the JBS stands for and I was around when it started. I was around when it invaded Orange County police departments. It is a radical right wing extremist group who saw communist conspiracy in virtually every facet of government. I read the book “None Dare Call it Treason.” which used inuendo, half truths, iies, and statements in congressional speeches to promote it’s agenda. It is now. It picked up where the McCarthy hearings left off after McCarthy was discredited. The Anaheim Police Department official physician had John Birch propaganda, all lies, pasted all over his walls. Ezra Taft Benson, while secretary of agriculture endorsed it and the LDS church officially distanced itself from it. It is totally in contradiction with the teachings of Christ in that it preaches hatred and uses lies as a weapon. It has a virulent hatred for anything that even appears to have socialistic characteristics such as the United Order and Acts 4, 31-37.

      • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

        I respectfully disagree with this statement and resent how it portrayed the JBS. As a member of the JBS and most recently their chapter leader in Las Vegas, I can tell readers from first hand experience that the JBS is the most truthful, effective organization defending the Constitution that there is. The JBS does not “preach hatred.” It does not “invade” police departments. Yea, everything is “radical” right? For accuracy sake, the book is called “None Dare Call it a Conspiracy (not Treason).” There will be bad apples in any bunch, but what some doctor had on his wall? Really? And the church “officially” distanced itself? Please show me the official statement of that. I’m quite sure the JBS has never made any statement on the United Order or Acts 4:31-37.

        The core principles of the JBS are to be admired rather than vilified. Typically, it’s folks who confuse government social programs as “charity” rather than seeing them for what they really are – the chains that lead those on “entitlements” into the captivity of idleness and dependency that condemn the JBS.

    • LDSDPer says:

      The JBS was set up ostensibly to ‘protect freedom’, but it was funded by money from foundations that had also funded illegal wars (Korean in particular)–
      In other words, it was ‘controlled opposition’ and therefore highly suspect.
      This would be the equivalent of the Catholic church giving money to the LDS church to promote its proselyting efforts–

      • LDSDPer says:

        And I am certain there have been both good and bad inside the JBS, as with all organizations–

        Any such political or even religious organization invites abuse–

        I am suspicious of collectivizing based upon group membership–

    • tariq says:

      Ha ha ha! Have you ever seen the Drunk Uncle character on Saturday Night Live? The John Birch Society is basically an organization full of Drunk Uncles. It is basically made up of the kind of guys who tell racist jokes when they think no people of color are around.

      Their principles state that they want to go back to “the original intent of the founding fathers.” So I guess that means they want black people to be enslaved again and women to be kicked out of the political process. They must also want to take the vote away from working class people because the founding fathers only wanted property owners to have access to the political process.

      A JBS chapter president getting offended that someone would criticize the JBS: ha ha! Oh drunk uncle, what funny thing will you say next?

      • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

        Against my better judgement I respond to tariq for his offensive reply. After this, I will not dignify such with a reply. A word to the wise is sufficient.

        It is classic mockery to start one’s post with “Ha ha ha!” Then to compare the JBS to Drunk Uncles. Really? And we tell racist jokes? We want blacks enslaved and to take the vote from working class people? These are juvenile accusations with a distain for the Constitution bleeding thru and a lack of knowledge about the sentiments of the Founders to the issue of slavery as they crafted the document.

        But no doubt tariq knows more about the JBS than someone who’s been a member of it for decades. I will leave to the other reader’s judgement which of us would know the JBS better.

      • LDSDPer says:

        all right; you picked apart my language–

        the post in which you told me that I don’t represent every open-minded person won’t allow a response–

        Technically, you are correct–

        It’s each man/woman for him/herself on here–

      • tariq says:

        My tone does not translate well into writing, but my tone really is more good natured than it seems. I’m not your enemy.

    • LDSDPer says:

      there are good people in the JBS, and there are bad people in the JBS; there are good people in the Mormon church; there are bad people in the Mormon church–etc.

      The JBS was set up originally with funds from Rockefeller, which somewhat negates its purity, but I have met and know some fine members–
      I am sure there were those who did terrible things as well–
      I am beginning to wonder if there is an organization in the world that doesn’t have some kind of ties to one form or another of tyranny and oppression–
      I have found members of the JBS a bit too focused on communism and perhaps not focused enough on liberty–

      but I am generalizing from those I have known–good people, but they did tend to distrust ordinary Russians–

      which I thought was narrow, especially since it was a Russian leader who predicted that America would self-destruct without any help from Russians–
      or even Communists.

  9. Brigham certainly battled Emma on doctrinal issues, but I haven’t yet seen anything which suggests he “hated” her. It’s one thing to debate someone, it’s quite another to hate them.

    • LDSDPer says:

      I always had the idea that the feeling of enmity was mutal–

      but then I might be misinformed. For both having been, according to Brigham, friends of Joseph Smith, I don’t think two people could have had less in common–

  10. gomw says:

    I don’t know how old you are, Floyd, but the JBS has been like a chamelion recently after being so discredited. The renaming of the book that you claim is typical. Somewhere in my collections, I have a copy of the original book. You can buy one on Amazon:

    I knew people in the JBS, I attended a meeting. There was a response to the book called None Dare Call it Reason which wasn’t so successful but accurate. I also have a copy of that somewhere.

    Here is William Buckley’s, that spokesman for liberalism, thoughts on Welch and the John Birch Society.

    For proof of the Church position. Pull up this link, go to the 60’s and follow the link. It’s there.

    Of course the JBS never opposed Acts 4 specifically or the United order but ask your JBS leaders to speak to holding everything in common as i Acts 4 or in the United Order. What do you think they will say?????

  11. gomw says:

    To Floyd re: JBS. An organization, like people, can change clothes but the same body is inside. Here is the original JBS as created by Robert Welch:

    Welch believed that Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower, were part of a communist conspiracy. Welch sent out a letter claiming that President Eisenhower was a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy”. In 1956 Welch wrote that other top government officials such as John Foster Dulles and Allan W. Dulles were “communist tools”.

    • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

      As a modern example, when George Bush promoted the “Patriot Act” was he acting to support the principles of liberty or bondage? Could he be described as a “tool” in that instance? And I would be no less guilty than any man if I promoted programs or actions that took away men’s liberty. I may not generally intend to support Collectivism, Socialism or Communism, but when I act contrary to the principles of freedom, in that instance am I not acting as a “tool” of the principles of captivity (Communism)?

    • LDSDPer says:

      there aren’t very many well-informed people who don’t realize that ‘shadow governments’ have been in existence since the beginning of humanity–

      the big mistake that the JBS made was to call everyone a communist, instead of looking into business dealings, etc. that interfered with honesty in public office–

      JBS made itself ridiculous in the eyes of the American people and defeated itself in whatever right purpose it may have had by over-reacting and become tyrannical in its over-reaction–

      but then, as I posted in another ‘box’ with funds from Rockefeller I don’t think there was any doubt that any real whistle blowing on true enemies of American liberty would have been allowed–

      so it was necessary that the JBS become both a laughingstock and an organization to be feared and despised–

      it’s politics as usual–

      And then after that, after having had its claws removed, a few sensible people used it to discuss conservative politics, and it became a political club for well-behaved (for the most part) Mormons and other Christians, mostly white, typically male–

      no longer a threat to any real despots–having worn itself out on ‘communism’–

  12. gomw says:

    I don’t see anything like an analogy here! I’m not even sure what your point is. A little too abstract; as a matter of fact it is reminiscent of the messages and “proof” proffered by the early JBS. What you seem to be saying is that by promoting Medicare or single payer health insurance, that Joseph Smith, in calling for the United Order, or that when we swear an oath to consecration we are tools of communism. To most anyone outside the JBS, that is patently incorrect.

    Do you remember this? Or was this before your time. Millions of people still buy into this nonsense, even though it has been proven untrue by the test of time:

    When Bush and anyone else promoted the Patriotic Act, they were over-reacting to an over hyped threat. The Patriot Act is a bigger threat to our freedom and way of life than Al Quada. In the words of Ben Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

      Here’s the key to understanding if something (program, legislation, etc.) is running in conformity to the principles of liberty or captivity: is it implemented by force/compulsion or by persuasion/agency?

      As to Medicare and single-payer health insurance, think there’s much liberty in these? Try going/paying a doctor or specialist in Las Vegas without health insurance. See how well that works. Doesn’t matter if you’re capable of paying cash.

      Support these government programs that take our liberty? Not me!

      • tariq says:

        Yes, it is classic mockery. I am mocking the JBS because it is a ridiculous bunch of right-wing paranoid conspiracy nuts who entertain the fantasy that they are somehow protecting America from some International evil communist conspiracy.

        So, you have been a member of the JBS for decades? Were you a member back when the JBS opposed civil rights and racial integration? Oh yeah, of course that wasn’t because you guys are a bunch of racist drunk uncles, it was because of your great respect for states rights! States must have the right to discriminate against black people, otherwise it is communist tyranny! Just like the confederacy wasn’t racist; it just wanted to protect the states’ God-given right to enslave black people!

      • Brooks W. Wilson says:

        Floyd, I don’t need a key to understanding. I use logic, experience and facts. I wasn’t forced to use Medicare when I had three heart surgeries and knee replacement surgery. My wife wasn’t forced to use Medicare when she had brain surgery and a thyroidectomy. We could have exercised our “agency” and paid out of our pocketbook..just as we will have to do when Romney is elected and he adopts the Ayn Rand inspired Paul Ryan budget.

        Your reference to the Las Vegas situation somehow confuses me. What, exactly, is your point. Doctors in Las Vegas accept either Medicare or cash. My brother’s cardiologist is in Las Vegas. He accepts Medicare but I’m sure he would let my brother pay cash which would be more than the Medicare rate.

      • LDSDPer says:

        I understand. I wouldn’t mind providing health care to those who are in greater need of it than I am, if I could do it voluntarily, but I am too busy paying cash for the alternative treatment I am getting to counteract that damage that was done to me by conventional practitioners–
        It’s the monopolies, both economic and professional, that are a problem and have always been a problem.
        Many can see the evil in corporate monopolies, but not in insurance and medicine–
        And I find it laughable to think that Romney is any different from Obama; he created health care in the state of Massachusetts–
        but then I am not in support of either Obama or Romney. How simple life must be to see only those two as the choices–

      • LDSDPer says:

        and . . . conventional medicine/insurance are monopolistic, but they are the cherished ‘bad guys’–so nobody can touch them–after all everyone needs hospitals regularly, correct? (I don’t believe that, or I wouldn’t have thrown in the sarcasm)

        the person below whose name starts with ‘t’–

        defeats himself by the use of mocking language–

        and doesn’t impress any open-minded person–

        –LDSDPer has never in any way been associated with the JBS–

      • tariq says:

        Good to know that you speak for every open-minded person. Though I’m not terribly interested in impressing every open-minded person, but thanks for the life lesson. If being open-minded means that I have to take the ideas of the JBS seriously, then I’d rather be closed-minded.

  13. Interesting categorization of periods of Mormon history. I’ve noticed the traits described as “New Mormonism” and laughed at them under the assumption that this class of people was a dying breed among a surge of independent thought stimulated by the fact that we can’t really keep secrets about our past (or present, for that matter) anymore. I suppose, though, that what’s really going on is that I need to get out and look at the world outside the Mormon Worker blog…

    An interesting note, though: By unread I assume Paul meant that these Mormons read the approved church manuals and tend to avoid Mormon history and other information on the Church from outside sources, lest they accidentally corrupt their souls with “apostate” literature. I’ve noticed this attitude seeps into other aspects of their lives, as Mormons in political debate tend to react to any uncomfortable information as if it likewise were apostate literature and avoid (and recommend the avoidance of) it, ostensibly for the sake of some sort of purity…

  14. Ron Madson says:

    I would prefer not to weigh into the JBS debate in that I am not really familiar with its current operations, but rather mention that I know Floyd Fitzgibbons personally and consider him a a very intelligent, courageous and high character individual. If all JBS members were like him it would be a wonderful organization and devoid of all the negatives pointed out by others on this thread. But I can’t judge that organization by Floyd anymore than I could judge it by some in that organization on the fringe in the past or present—anymore that we would want our faith judged by outliers. What they do collectively in present tense would be informative, even as what we do or do not do in present tense as a faith community.

    As to the opening post I see our faith community being subjected to some fundamental changes in our near future. Our sacred texts provide some sobering assessments as to what us gentiles would do with His church in the last days…

    • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

      Thanks for your kind words Ron. You have taken a principled position by not passing judgement on the JBS. Others were swift to tell me how much more they knew about the JBS than me even though I am a long-time member and they haven’t been in the JBS for a single day. Kind of reminds us of the non-members who think they know more about “Mormonism” than we do as members. Sheer folly.

      • tariq says:

        Oh, I’m soooo sorry for passing judgement on the holy JBS. Give me a break. Did the JBS not oppose civil rights legislation? Does the JBS still, to this day, not defend its opposition to civil rights? Does the JBS not talk FREEDOM out of one side of its mouth while simultaneously advocating for limits on the freedom of movement of undocumented immigrants? Does the JBS not advocate for continued legal and social discrimination against LGBTQ people? Does the JBS not mythologize and uncritically glorify white supremacists (founding fathers) who enslaved black people?

        The thing that confuses me about the JBS is that James Madison, the champion and principle author of the U.S. Constitution, advocated for a constitution for the purpose of strengthening the federal government and giving it more power to compel the states. Yet the JBS, which claims to be all about protecting the constitution, seems to want to go back to how things were under the Articles of Confederation, when the federal government was relatively powerless to compel the states.

      • Brooks W. Wilson says:

        You don’t have to be inside an organization to know what it does. That is like saying you don’t understand Fascism in Germany because you were not a party member. I knew members in the JBS in the 60’s. I know what they did, what they advocated and the lies they told. In one Orange County PD in the 60’s, maybe more, Belonging to the JBS was necessary for promotion. Every cop wore the American flag lapel pin on his uniform and the police cars had an American flag on the bumper. The chief of my department, a conservative republican refused both, saying, “this is the Anaheim Police Department, not the United States police department. Please don’t tell me I don’t know about the JBS because I’m not a member.

    • Brooks W. Wilson says:

      It hasn’t been my intention to impugn the character of Floyd. I have responded to his assertion that one must be inside the JBS to understand or know anything about it. I would also question the judgement of a Mormon belonging. It is still a radical right organization and implies that anyone with anything like a liberal view is part of the communist conspiracy:

      “John Birch Society Today
      Although the John Birch Society is normally thought of as a remnant of the Cold War past, it still exists and is still active. One of the ways it influences society is through the Council for National Policy, which the John Birch Society was instrumental in founding.

      “The John Birch Society tends to see anti-American enemies everywhere – typically liberals and leftists. Although the Cold War is over and the principle enemy of the past, the communists, no longer seem like such a threat, that hasn’t deterred the Society. Today, the John Birch Society talks much more about the threat posed by “collectivism” and “collectivists” rather than communism. After the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma, the John Birch Society was telling people that it was probably committed by leftists seeking to embarrass genuine patriots.'”

      Floyd also implies that he agrees that Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and the Dulles’ were conscious communist tools in his reply to me above.

      Frankly, I think I know more about the JBS, at least in the early days, than Floyd. I was there when Chief Allen discovered JBS activity in his department. I knew the actors in the court case cited below. I was on the Anaheim Police Department at the time. The JBS was scary!! The JBS created the secretive Council For National Policy, which is trying to control American policy through money and nefarious means.

  15. scootd28 says:

    Guess I have a couple of things to contribute here. I get very uncomfortable with the contention that accompanies some of the articles, including this one. Obviously, the church is as imperfect as its members, but it is still Christ’s church. I think there may be a new period approaching – perhaps it will be called the preparatory period – preparation for the coming of the Lord. It is characterized by an emphasis on an individual’s relationship with the Savior – on seeking sanctification with the Lord’s will for the individual. It is the period of appearance of the 144,000.There will be many during this period who will see the face of the Lord and have their Calling and Election made sure outside the temple. The power of heaven will continue to be manifest in the ordinances of the priesthood, but there will be many who will use these ordinances as a springboard toward receiving the greatest blessings of the Kingdom of God. My point, I guess, is that the gospel remains glorious, and its greatest manifestation is in experiencing the redeeming love of the Savior. This is accomplished through personal purification and service. I don’t know that any of this negativity gets us closer to that. I personally have much to learn about many things, but I seem to remember the Savior saying quite clearly that he who has the spirit of contention is not of me.

  16. zouarvehat says:

    Wow! If only every other religious commentator in this forum was as rigorous and as willing to be analytic as you – this has been a fascinating and enriching discussion!

  17. Wow, great site. I stumbled across your interesting blog and this post in particular. Regarding rigorous research, have you seen THIS survey?

    This was an objective survey, respectfully conducted in 2001 to address the veracity of the Book of Mormon … the premier LDS volume published during the earliest Mormon ‘permutation’ by the young prophet, Joseph Smith. The chronological events presented across the breadth of the Book of Mormon would, no doubt, leave a very observable and lasting archaeological ‘footprint’ somewhere. Right? Well, where it that place? I am asking. Where are all the artifacts?

    I created the survey as a genuine response to a dear LDS friend and colleague at my job [again, this was 2001] because he told me he thought I would “make a good Mormon.” When I told him I agreed, but that I could not embrace a philosophy based on a work of fiction .. he said, “How do you know it’s fiction?” I told him I would prove it was. So, over a period of weeks, I did my research, dug thru my copy of the Book of Mormon and I created the survey [URL above] and sent it out to more than 80 US and Canadian university archaeological professors – including BYU – and quickly received about 10 responses. If you are interested? I can share their answers. Their answers were telling and one must keep in mind, that these are all ‘meso-American’ archaeologists working in the isthmus of Mexico among the Aztec, Olmec, Mixtec, and Mayan ruins.

    Bottom line is this.

    The Bible speaks of Jericho, the Jordan river, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc. The biblical city of Jerusalem pre-dates the founding of the Book of Mormon main city of Zarahemla by many centuries and yet the ruins of Jerusalem’s distant past are being uncovered and documented every single day in Israel. By contrast, the text of the Book of Mormon names a hundred places like Zarahemla, but the locations for each of them remains completely un-known. Where ARE the cities, towns, battle fields, tombs of kings, etc. described in the Book of Mormon? That is what the survey sought to explore. For without an archeological past, the veracity of Joseph Smith’s revelation appears quite thin. I challenge you and anyone to check this out.


    Daniel M. Wright

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