Anti-American & Anti-Family

With strange curiosity I recently heard someone describe Mormonism as Anti-American and Anti-Family. Not now of course, and that’s what made the statement so strange. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a collection of people who are not more pro-America and pro-Family than Mormons. But that was how the LDS culture was perceived in the latter decades of the 19th Century and I would say rightly so.

When Brigham Young moved the church to Utah, he was moving the it out of the United States. It was an act of rejection of the United States. The way the newly found settlement interacted with the United States over the years was frequently and intentionally antagonistic. It’s my understanding that some of the anti-American rhetoric found in Mormon culture even made it’s way into the temple endowment ceremony. Frankly, I think the Mormons felt they had a number of legitimate reasons to not be so friendly to the USA. To some degree Mormons were proud to be unAmerican.

Mormons were also perceived to be anti-Family because of the practice of polygamy. I think this perception was correct. I think polygamy destroys families. It warps the role of the father, pits women against their family and isolates children. There is no possible way that a husband or wife can experience the physical and emotional intimacy God intends for them in polygamy. They are stretched apart instead of joined together. A wife becomes part of a collection rather than a co-partner. There is something evil in the idea that a woman has to claw and clamor for family resources against others in her own family. It certainly produces a lot of children for one man, but a large family does not necessarily mean a good family. How can children view their father as close and loving when he is pulled to so many households? The ideas of what a family is like that are created out of polygamy are horrible. I can see why Emma Smith did everything she could to pull her children out of a polygamous society after Joseph was murdered. She lived it and knew she didn’t want anything more to do with it (perhaps she didn’t have a polygamy problem but a testimony problem).

Yes, polygamy is practiced in the Bible and every time it is mentioned it is followed by sad stories of families falling apart as a result. Look at the immediate results of polygamy in the Bible, you will never see a testimony of a healthy family. Righteous men practiced polygamy, but it was not polygamy that made them righteous (Hebrews says that it was their faith in God that made them righteous not the actions of their life).

I think Mitt Romney was on to something when he said that he couldn’t think of anything as terrible as polygamy. If the family is the most important and foundational unit in our society, then something that destroys families like polygamy does is terrible.

I’m glad that Mormonism is no longer anti-American nor anti-Family and amazed at how the culture was able to transform itself into the exact opposite on both accounts.


9 thoughts on “Anti-American & Anti-Family

  1. I don’t think Brigham Young moving out of the U.S. territory was a rejection of the U.S. It was self-preservation. Mormons needed a place where they would be free to worship God without being harassed. Brigham Young himself asked men to volunteer for the Mormon Battalion to fight in the Mexican war (although they never had to fight). It seems odd that a leader that rejected the U.S. would ask his followers to serve it.

    Also, Joseph Smith wanted to run for president. He wanted to be part of America. In addition, Utah Mormons wanted to become a state of the U.S. I hardly think the label of anti-American can ever be placed on the LDS Church at anytime during its history.

    I do understand how someone could say Mormons were anti-family because of polygamy. I don’t understand the practice myself. But personally I don’t believe it is necessarily an anti-family teaching. I think it is possible (although certainly hard) to live it and be a happy, productive family.

  2. Certainly given the history of the Mormon people in the early days of their existence, one could understand how there could be anti-American feelings. However, this was simply not the case. President George Q. Cannon said in 1884 the following:

    “If we had not had a profound attachment to the Constitution of the United States and to the institutions of this government, the course that is taken against us by those who have represented the government has been and is of a character to have driven us into open and avowed enmity to the government years and years ago. Without that deep-rooted attachment we should have lost all our respect for a government under which we have suffered such cruel wrongs. There could be no better evidence of the kind feeling and the loyalty of the Latter-day Saints to the government of the United States, than the fact that in our breasts and throughout these mountains, there prevails an unquenchable love and respect for the Constitution and the institutions that spring therefrom, notwithstanding we have been denied our rights and been treated with the utmost cruelty.” (Journal of Discourses Vol 26:3)

    This clearly indicates the feelings of the time, and that, at least from the Mormon’s perspective, they were very much in favor of America and it’s freedoms.

  3. Well, I’m sure if the US government didn’t feel that early Mormons weren’t a threat, they wouldn’t have felt the need to send 20% of the army out to Utah. Perhaps, they were totally on board with the US, but the perception was that they were not. I agree that the move to Utah, was partly motivated out of self-preservation, but was not entirely necessary. The members of the RLDS did just fine.

    Also, Brigham sent the Mormon brigade after receiving a large cash payment for them. It wasn’t because he believe in the cause of the Mexican-American war. And Joseph’s candidacy for President was to establish a theocracy, he didn’t plan on keeping things as the status quo.

  4. Yes the government thought them a threat, but that doesn’t mean Mormons were anti-American. Though the original perception may have been otherwise once they actually went to UT they discovered that they was no real threat. The charges had been trump up by detractors of the LDS Church. That is why they left without any fight.

    Members of the RLDS denied that Joseph practiced polygamy (which was one of the most divisive doctrines of Joseph Smith) I think that is why they were able to stay.

    It is true that Brigham Young did agree to send men in exchange for support to move west. However, it’s still strange that if he rejected the U.S. he would then sanction his followers to be employed by the very government he was rejecting. This would send a terribly mixed message to LDS members of the time.

    I think what B.Y. was leaving was the unfair treatment they received at the hands of those that were governing at the time and the indifference of the U.S. government to their plight. I don’t think anyone can say that the Mormons were treated fairly, in a legal sense.

  5. Dando, I think that the move by the Mormons out of the US was necessary. They believed in the idea of polygamy–which wasn’t tolerated in the US. Also, there were extermination orders given for Mormons in Illinois–not exactly a friendly idea to think about.

    I think the people were tired of being raped, beaten, and killed, and having the government sanction it. In that situation, I would probably want to leave the country as well.

    The RLDS might have done fine… but they’re not the same church. That’s like saying that the Catholics who moved to the US in the 18th and 19th centuries brought on the bad treatment they received–after all, the Protestants didn’t have such a hard time.

    Were I an early Mormon, I would probably be really disappointed in the country. For all the hopes and dreams it should stand for, it didn’t (doesn’t) always play out so fairly in practice.

  6. Yes, I certainly think that the LDS had many good reasons to move and to think poorly of the US government. What I think is remarkable is that they have moved to a completely opposite point of view.

  7. As long as the cult of the LDS doesn’t call themselves Christian, I’m cool with all of you. It’s only when you try to reconcile your con-man-conceived “doctrine” with the Holy writ of God that I tend to have a problem with y’all.

    I wouldn’t call you anti-family or anti-American. Just not Christian, that’s all.

  8. Look dude,

    If you want to be “cool with y’all” drop the “con-man” garbage. Cheap parting insults are not the way to “be cool” with your neighbors.

  9. Agreed, manchicken. We’ve sort of had this discussion at length already. If you want to take part in it, the comment thread is still up. But passing shots like this are just kind of lame.

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