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Posts Tagged ‘Latter Day Saints’

I’ve been lying awake nights the past two weeks, worrying over the fact that I am leaving all fifteen readers of this blog bereft of information on the recent fundie Mormon polygamy busts in Texas. The problem is, not only have I been crazy busy with the deadly combo of a college class, full time job and writing I’m actually getting paid for, it’s not like I have anything above and beyond a blog like The Plural Life. She’s been living in a hotel in Texas, going to court every day. I only have the internet!

Therefore, I present you with an excellent quick guide to Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. Keep it in your wallet, and next time your business acquaintance is all, “Well, I have three wives,” you can act like you know what you’re talking about.

Today will be an amusing and diverting explanation of doctrine that differs from regular Mormon doctrine. Tomorrow will be groups. Let the oversimplification begin.

FYI: The proper name for the Mormon Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The cool kids just call it the LDS church.

The Law of Consecration. This stems from an 1831 revelation that Joseph Smith had; basically, all families deed their property to the church, which then gives the family and any successive families “stewardship” over it, with the understanding that any excess be tithed back to the church. The whole thing is run by the United Order, but fizzled in the main church by about 1877 when Brigham Young died. Don’t call it communism, because this is voluntary. You know, the special kind where there’s not that much of a choice.

The Adam-God Theory. Not for the theologically faint of heart. This idea comes from an 1852 speech made by Brigham Young, who elaborated on it once and refused to talk about it after 1854. It says that Adam was God, possibly a God besides the regular God, and possibly a God who came to earth from a different celestial kingdom. (Basic Mormon doctrine: if you live righteously, you get a celestial kingdom with planets and wives and stuff.) Adam was also the father of Jesus via the Virgin Mary. The mainstream Mormon church rejected this pretty much out of hand.

Plural Marriage. Yeah, you probably already know about the polygamy one, though more correctly it’s polygyny-multiple wives. Many women can be sealed-married for eternity, into the next kingdom-to one man. Joseph Smith started doing it in secret around 1833, and speculation on why ranges from “It was a divine revelation” to “He couldn’t keep it in his pants.” It ended when the Mormon church was at odds with the US government over statehood: polygamy was illegal in territories, and in order for Utah to become a state, the mainstream Mormon church had to renounce it and outlaw it in the state constitution.

Blood Atonement. According to this idea, some sins (namely murder and adultery) are so serious that they cannot be given unless the sinner willingly sheds his or her blood and dies. In the original Mormon doctrine in the 1850s, it was stipulated that the atonement had to be voluntary, therefore no “blood atonement” killings, but it was tricky nonetheless. The mainstream Mormon church used it to justify capital punishment in Utah, but finally did away with it in 1978.

The Exclusion of Black Men from the Priesthood. I feel like this is kind of self-explanatory, but have some history. According to Genesis, after Cain killed Abel God punished him in a lively variety of ways, including putting some sort of mark on him. The early Mormon church claimed that black people had the “mark of Cain” and were therefore excluded from the priesthood, many temple rites, and also “celestial marriage.” It was all repealed in 1978, and the LDS church now loves black people.

Check back tomorrow for part 2: which Mormon splinter groups believe what.

(UPDATE: Part 2 and Part 3 are both live.)

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