What Mormons are like. . .

Jack inspired me to get off my butt and write some jokes about what Mormons are like:

Like Punks, Mormons are  lower-class people that don’t want to conform to traditions.

Like Rastafarians, Mormons are lower-class people that use religion as a way to get higher in life.

Like Catholics, Mormons are lower-class people that respect priesthood authority.

Like charismatics, Mormons are lower-class people that are not ashamed of whatever comes out of their mouths when they are feeling the spirit.

Like Democrats, Mormons are lower-class people that think that one can win in the world through will and intelligence.

Like Republicans, Mormons are lower-class people that think that charisma is more imporant than coherance.

Like Americans, Mormons are lower-class people that think that their holy documents are somehow superior to everything ever written.

Like Hindus, Mormons are lower-class people who believe that their pathetic lives fit in with some cosmic order of things.

Lke Muslims, Mormons are people who swear by prophets.

Like the Insane Clown Posse, Mormons are chaotically creative lower-class people who believe in God.

Like New Agers, Mormons are people who think they they are in constantly in touch with extra-terrestrials.

Like wrestlers, Mormons are lower-class people who torture themselves for an imagined glory only they can understand.

Like Christians, Mormons are lower-class people that condemn themselves under the law.

Like ranchers, Mormons are lower-class people who spend their time herding livestock stamped with their own brand.

Like police officers, Mormon are lower-class people who think that special rules apply to them because they enforce the law.

Like soldiers, Mormons are lower-class believe you receive more glory if you die in the line of duty.



48 thoughts on “What Mormons are like. . .

  1. You must feel really good about yourself calling a whole bunch of people “lower class”. You sound very classy indeed.

  2. @JT Mormons are — and have always been — lower-class people that wish to improve themselves culturally and spiritually outside the confines of establishment churches. Mormonism is a great case study in how people attempt to transcend class. Part of the LDS allure is that it makes the poor farmer, the immigrant, the peasant, a king and priest. Part of the project of the church is to lift people from the lower class to a good old-fashioned middle-class lifestyle. Joseph Smith was the consummate lower-class hero. If you are not conscious of the class struggle that led to Mormonism you are not going to get why they are successful.

    @daniel – I am a Mormon and I come from the lower class. (I think most of the best people do 😉 .)

  3. Thanks Jared – interesting thoughts. I don’t think that message got across very well during Romney’s presidential campaigns.

  4. Well, it’s not a message, it’s just a reality. Early Mormonism was a cultural movement aimed as recruiting the lower class that would be willing to risk everything to move to the desert. Usually they had little to lose when they went west. Most people that exhibit this behavior do not have social class and status.

    Mormonism is a religion for social climbers. Romney could be seen as the paradigm of what Mormons want to be when they join the church.

  5. . . . like the Nicene creed? Joseph Smith was anything but traditional. Mormons want to follow nineteenth-century traditions, not third-century traditions.

  6. That may be, but they still follow traditions. Very astutely, it seems. And correct me if I am wrong, these 18th century traditions are supposedly restorations of first and second century traditions.

    (Honestly, not trying to start an argument, but trying to flush out the traditions that they don’t follow.)

  7. Mormons reject traditional Christianity and adhere to a theology that was only developed systematically over the last hundred years. Very few Mormon “traditions” last very long. (See Polygamy) Their fundamental claim is that revelation trumps tradition. In this way, they are extremely liberal radical- even if they have lately become conservative socially and legally. They strongly reject all traditional Christian institutions as corrupt. In principle, it is hard to find a person who claims Christianity that has rejected tradition more than the LDS.

    Their brand of Christianity is as weird vis-a-vis traditional Christianity as punk rock is to classical music. Mormons as individuals generally are those that reject tradition within their own cultures. Becoming a Mormons generally means adopting a counter-culture. They are the reverse image of punks. Like punks they play a story about God that is often very out of tune, often clumsy and chaotic.

  8. I appreciate that, Jared, but you really didn’t answer my question. I mean, isn’t baptizing the dead a tradition? And ritual marriage? I could go on. Perhaps we are defining tradition in a different way, but I see the above as tradition.

    If you disagree, that’s cool, but let’s be honest about the discussion. And, in that spirit, I believe the beliefs of Mormons are based on supposed tradition from the time right after Christ and before the apostasy occurred. Am I wrong to view them that way?

  9. In the sense you use the word “tradition” Mormons would agree that they are following older restored traditions, and in are that way are traditional. But the fact is, that to become a Mormon it means that the convert rejects all of the dominant Christian religious traditions in favor of a very new and exotic theology. So, in the macro view, Mormons appear to be a radical Christian subgroup that was spawned by lower-class disappointment with clergy and society.

  10. Good enough. I appreciate the response. I’m just not sure I buy that Mormons reject ‘traditions’ standing alone. They do follow tradition, just not traditional Christian traditions. They seem adopt their own, replacing one set of traditions for another.

    Does that change the macro view you suggest? I don’t know if your macro view addresses tradition, though, so I am not sure. Tradition maybe irrelevant to that, unless you specify dominant Christian traditions in your original joke. Otherwise, they apparently still want to conform (and are required to?) to traditions, just different traditions.

    Anyway, I am glad to see a new post up and I enjoy the discussion! Hope I’m not too much a pain in the rear…

  11. “They strongly reject all traditional Christian institutions as corrupt.”

    Isn’t that the fundamental American tradition, rejecting everyone else as corrupt?

    “In principle, it is hard to find a person who claims Christianity that has rejected tradition more than the LDS.”

    Really? Oneness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witness’s, prosperity preaching, televangelist…

  12. My observation:
    There is a huge number of lower income Mormons here in the United States. I’ve seen it my whole Church life. Every ward I’ve been in seems to have one or two millionaires and lots of lower income people. There is, of course, plenty of middle of the road incomes too. But far more poor people than well off people.

  13. Ummmm……?

    “I wouldn’t confuse income and class.”

    It’s part of the definition….. Literally.

    “a group sharing the same economic or social status”


    And per the only facial evidence available or provided at the least, this is factually untrue. As far as the spectrum of Christianity goes, Mormons are the exception, with Evangelicals meeting the OP far more than Mormons do.

    Was any research put into this at all before posting any of it, to include responses?

  14. I cannot tell if you’re being sarcastic, or deliberately obtuse. Income is part of the definition of social class. It is literally in the definition, but you question this. This whole argument from the OP to your comments displays an ironic lack of cogency or aptitude.

    On a Blog entitled “LDS and Evangelical Conversations” Jared makes a post about how Mormons are lower class, when the actual evidence supports the proposition that the opposite is actually true, Evangelicals are lower socioeconomically and less intellectually accomplished than most of Christianity. And no one either wants to admit this or address it.

    I can’t tell if this was the intention of the OP all along, to mock Evangelicals by making a preposterously false argument about Mormons? And are you supporting the OP, or displaying the truth of the irony through inability to consider the factual evidence?

  15. Magician, Sure Evangelicals are lower class too. I wasn’t contrasting, even though I can see how you might think I was. I am Mormon, sixth generation. I think it is critical -if we want to understand Mormons- to recognize that they are, and always have been , a movement that is rooted in the lower class. I’m wondering why you disagree.

  16. While we know Joseph was dirt poor and most of the early followers were dirt poor as many followers today are also at the bottom tier of social economics many LDS have prospered. There are thousands of Mormon millionaires and a couple of billionaires and not to mention a large middle class. Tithes from that type of income have build beautiful temples and meetings houses around the world. On the surface the LDS Church looks rich. LDS films and videos depicted upper income families in nice houses. This was a ‘selling’ point in decades past. (If you are LDS, you might prosper too). And the principle comes from the Book of Mormon, that if we are righteous, we will ‘prosper in the land’.

    However, the Church also has the biggest private welfare system in the world. And it is heavily used, especially when there is a recession. The system becomes strained during bad economic times. The Church, in decades past, did not allow members who had economic trouble to seek government assistance. They took care of it themselves. But due to the enormous influx of new members, many of whom are poor, the Church can’t handle the need and so members are allowed to seek government assistance as well as church assistance.

    Per member, the LDS Church is not as well off as it was at one time.

    Many Evangelical Churches, if they would combine could easily match LDS wealth per person, since they have plenty of members in the middle and upper classes. It’s a matter of money management and they can do it if they truly want to. And I wish they would. Politically and in many other ways it would help this country and Christianity at large.

  17. My main problem is, and continues to be, that the OP is not based on any factual evidence. The recent Pew study was the most comprehensive that I have seen, and it contradicts the thesis. And this has nothing to do with being Mormon, Evangelical, or Pastafarian. I do not know how you could make this argument without any study whatsoever, or why no one has bothered to look into the evidence at all.

  18. Magician, it is (nearly) obvious to the class-conscious observer that Mormons came – and continue to come – from the lower classes. Most Mormons now are Spanish speaking Latin Americans of native or mixed Native descent. This has never been the upper class. Mormons are consciously social climbers, evidence that the came from the bottom rungs. There are no Mormon kings, Dukes, earls or princesses. Mormons don’t listen to the universities built by the upper classes. They ignore the traditions of the ruling classes. The themes of Book of Mormon are uniformly against typical upper class values. Income has almost nothing to do with class in this sense. Most early Mormons would fit in well with the Clampet family.

  19. And yet the Pew study contradicting this remains unaddressed.

    Would your argument be different if you addressed the facts instead of what you considered “obvious”?

    And your comments on how Latin Americans are lower class is borderline racist.

  20. Income, especially in America, is not directly correlated with class. The rich Mormons you find are almost uniformly from poor immigrant stock and haven’t strayed from the original Mormon cultural base. I don’t see how the pew study is directly relevant to whether Mormonism is a lower class movement. To this day Missionaries simply don’t baptize in the upper classes.

  21. And I don’t get why you think calling immigrants and native peoples lower class has anything to do with racism except that race has historically determined class in the new world since Columbus.

  22. Magician,

    No I’m not trying to be obtuse, and while Webster isn’t the first souce I would turn to for explanations about sociological hierarchy it is right there in the definition, “economic OR social status.”

    I wouldn’t think it is at all controversial that, family ties, race, education, profession OR even religion can all be much more indicative of social class than simply income.

    For whatever it is worth, clearly LDS are the social and ruling elite in Utah and parts of the West.

  23. Again, a failure to interact with the facts and data is hurting your argument. I am only pointing out the glaring flaws, I did not create them, but they are there, nonetheless.

    But for more data…

    A Pew article about income disparity. This is important because the growing income inequality is a big issue in the US, and elsewhere, and it is inevitably tied to class status…

    For example here you can see what your class status is based on income…

    And here is a discussion of class mobility based on income…

    But let’s look at your series of comments. You do not state that “Mormons were…” In what seems to be an attempt to set up a de facto retraction, you began with “The rich Mormons you find are almost uniformly from poor immigrant stock and haven’t strayed from the original Mormon cultural base”, you are already moving the goalposts to begin to make the argument that the it is the movement, and not the people, you are referring to, but this does not fit.

    In each of the statements you make above, you state that “Mormons are…” The insinuation that the individuals who may have been descended from one social class to emerge in another is as silly as it is misguided, since the vast majority of people on the Earth are not from some sort of royal stock, so were inevitably from some lower-than-upper class ancestry. The fact that social strata is a moving target and hardly maintains continuity from generation to generation does not seem to have occurred to you at all. Neither does the fact that social class also varies by region and nationality, as the “lower class” Latin Americans you allude to are likely poorer than many Americans, but might be well within the middle-class of their respective nations.

    But in any case, the current stock of Mormons in the USA are actually middle-class, by and large, and so to a larger degree than many Christian sects. You have yet to provide any evidence for your statements, and a quick Google search easily disproves your thesis, so I am left confused why you did not do research, continue to avoid the effort, and try so hard to oppose evidence that is so readily available. The myth of the solidly middle-class Mormon is so entrenched in our society that it makes me wonder how you could even make the OP and claim it was “obvious”.

  24. I suppose Mormons are “upper class” of a desert wasteland, but they have always prided themselves on being part of the weak and humble that will bring down the proud and the strong (I.e. Ruling classes). The lower class theme is woven into almost all of their mythology.

  25. Magician, your argument takes the form of “rock and roll stars make a lot of money, therefore rock and roll is not a lower class movement”. I think you are missing the historical context, Mormonism is barely older than rock and roll compared to traditional Christians. I agree that evangelicals are of a similar class origin. The difference being that Evs are attempting to re-ground with older tradition, Mormons are attempting to rekindle a more primitive (pre-Christian) religious sentiment

  26. And, BTW, I think the lower class origin of Mormonism is its primary strength. IMHO, Original Christianity was a peasant rebellion of the spirit.

  27. Magician, did you look at the data?
    First, the “survey” must only look at the United States which represents a sizable but minority population of the LDS Church.
    But just taking the numbers inside the US, 27% make less than $30 k per year, which in nothing less than poor. That means a full one quarter of Mormons are poor. Then another 20% make less than $50 k which isn’t hardly among the rich and famous.
    This means nearly half of the LDS church inside the US is not doing well to down right poor. This doesn’t include the millions of Mormons living outside the US which are dirt poor by our standards.
    So, I don’t know why you have trouble with the OP, when you are the one who put up the facts. Please explain.

  28. I wonder what the value is in defining who is poor in a given faith in the United States, as if any particular faith leads to more poverty, wealth, or otherwise.

    Jared’s point is that Mormons seem to take pride in its poor roots. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, as Brigham Young, for instance, was not some poor fellow when he came to Mormonism. But, he is but one early convert out of many. We can argue all day and night and not reach a consensus.

    But the point that Jared also seems to make, stemming from the poor argument, is that Mormons are a sort of rebellious group, looking to sock it to the establishment. Kinda sounds like Donald Trump right about now… If true, though, that Mormons are indeed a rebellious group, they certainly have adopted their own establishment, structure, and traditions. I would even argue their establishment, structure, and traditions are a deeper part of daily Mormon life than what they left.

    I am still left wondering, then, what Mormons really are like… The Mormons I have seen and known are very comfortable in their position, and that has nothing to do with lower or upper class…

  29. Hey Cowboy,

    you said: “I am still left wondering, then, what Mormons really are like”

    I’m wondering what you are wondering about.

    And this: ” The Mormons I have seen and known are very comfortable in their position, and that has nothing to do with lower or upper class…”

    I agree with this. Most of the LDS I know are like me, in that, they carry a sense of certainty about God, the plan and what the future holds. Everything that matters seems to be spelled out. For instance, the fate of those whom never heard the Gospel is clearly accounted for. Is Christ’s return literal or figurative? All of these things have definite answers (whether you agree with it or not) but for the LDS it makes sense. And those answers are mostly backed up by the authority of modern day prophets. This type of surety makes it easy to be comfortable about spiritual things no matter what economic class one finds themselves in.

  30. {Like Americans, Mormons are lower-class people that think that their holy documents are somehow superior to everything ever written.}

    Given the tone of the whole thing, YOU must believe it is a bad thing to hold the 66 scriptures in the Bible higher than government documents!

  31. JaredC. You are an idiot. You have no clue about the true Mormon church don’t know where you learned any of your information but I think you need to go back and try again.

  32. Another thing if you knew anything you would know that you can’t judge a group of people by one instance. You have to learn and listen to Holy Spirit and follow your heart.

  33. Hey Jared,
    I don’t know if anyone has touched on this subject, or if you will ever read this. However, if you read the message of Jesus Christ to John the Baptist when He was asked if He was the Christ, you will see that is exactly how Mormons started and are today (“as in to the poor is preached the Gospel”). And, if they are lifted from the lower condition it is only because they diligently apply the message of the True Gospel in their lives. And that is true because that is a law of the Universe, when you follow the true laws that govern anything, you will get the correct results. Just look how science has advanced, by discovering and following laws correctly. That is exactly what the Mormon Doctrine preaches.

  34. Hi Charles, I think your post proves my point. Mormonism is the model of a lower-class religion precisely because it conceives of the purpose of the religion to increase the prosperity and class status of it’s constituents. The upper class is not interested in this because they have already arrived at prosperity through the laws the govern the world.

  35. Magician…
    Re moving the goal posts, its something they have to do here, in order to talk to evangelicals…

    So Jared, gotta say your post does seem rather disrespectful to many groups, Mormons and foreigners… It was also technically incorrect because you did not include ” were”. You stated it on the present tense which contradicts the pew findings. Next, US members are not minority, no other nation has more members, so a statistical sampling of us is the largest sampling of members in any nation. Next, the 27000 may be individual income, make sure you’re including family income… A sahm Mary k side business is not as important as the 250k layers job, and that should properly be listed as 275/family…

    If you want to emphasis the growth aspect of Mormonism, that’s fine, but there are respectful ways of doing it.. denigrating foreigners is not ok, it is liberal elitism. Denigrating Mormonism is not ok just because you claim to be one, (most of us know you better anyhow__ur not that faithful).

    Mormonism is about finding those who want to be better, exciting those who don’t to try, all under the guise of finding the pure in heart…

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