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MORMON MANIFESTOS: REVELATION OR CAPITULATION

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[A possible future trade off-- gay marriage for polygamy?]

Mormon Church members are brainwashed to believe that the leader of the church, currently a gentleman by the name of Thomas Sterling Monson, is in daily touch with god, who guides and directs the church through him.

The fiction goes that when a man is selected to be a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles, he is chosen by god through that living prophet. David O. McKay was the living prophet when Monson was called to be an apostle.  In effect, the quorum of apostles becomes the reserve pool for succession to the living prophet/president status of the church. Only by out- living more senior members does the survivor succeed to the presidency.

However, the “law” of succession relies on a principle that the title “Apostle” signifies the man has seen the face of Christ/god and in fact can attest to the world with personal knowledge that god exists.  This notion makes an Apostle semi-divine! Mormons dutifully believe that fiction and will lay down their lives in its defense.

In the winter of 1974-75 the writer had the opportunity of meeting face to face with an apostle, Howard Hunter. The purpose was that he had issues to discuss with church leaders concerning the status of black male members of the church who were denied equality in respect to priesthood rights. The request for a face to face meeting had been going on for well over five years. Finally, it was arranged at the Columbia River Stake quarterly conference in Vancouver, Washington.

The meeting was not productive, as inappropriate others were present. The meeting was thus unbalanced, with Hunter telling the writer that if he continued his efforts he would be destroyed. The writer asked him a question, “Brother Hunter, have you ever seen the Lord?” Hunter’s face reddened, and he spun his head toward the wall shouting, “If I ever had, I would never tell it to a soul!”  At this point the regional representative jumped out of his chair shouting at the writer,” Do you know who you are talking to?” The response was, “Yes an imposter!”

The issue of valid revelation is critical to the very existence of the church, for without it the church has no foundation. Unlike so many hundreds of religious theories that have catapulted numerous churches into existence, the Mormon concept out-does them all with the bold assertion that it is the restored church by direct revelation from god. Yet between January 14, 1847 and the present day, not one revelation has been codified by the church with the exception of sections 137 and 138 which were belatedly added to the D&C. Section 137 allegedly was received on January 21, 1836 and Section 138 on October 3 , 1918. Why these were added to the D&C belatedly, we can guess, is only be to keep the flock believing in revelation.

We will take two late examples of inferred revelations, called manifestos, and scrutinize them to see if they came about by revelation or capitulation to outside pressure.

MANIFESTO I

It matters not who started polygamy within the Mormon Church: founder Joseph Smith, Jr. or Brigham Young [the record shows Smith]; the fact that it was practiced openly within the church is unquestioned.  Most of the states at the time, in the middle of the nineteenth century, had laws on their books prohibiting bigamy. Polygamy was not thought of or legally practiced within the United States yet. It would have qualified as bigamy.

When Brigham Young took his followers west to the Rocky Mountains in 1846, the area was a possession of Mexico.  Young sought a region in which the Mormons could practice their religion without interference. The migration occurred at an historical time when the doctrine of the “Manifest Destiny” of the United States going from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean was being implemented by the US military. A border dispute was created by the military, establishing a base some 150 kilometers inside Mexico.

A naval invasion armada of the US military was sent to the Gulf of Mexico, which invaded a sovereign nation battling its way into Mexico City, forcing surrender and imposing the will of those who supported Manifest Destiny by the surrender to the US of an area of Mexico. That area today consists of ten western states. Utah is one of those states.

Interestingly, most of the generals of the Union and Confederate armies were young officer graduates of West Point who participated in the invasion, including Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.

On the trek west, the US military intercepted the first migration train and sought to recruit men to march to the area delineated as the proposed new border between Mexico and the United States. In an effort to gain some US currency, ** Young organized some 500 men who became known as the Mormon Battalion. By the time they reached the border, the settlement with Mexico was known, and the battalion disbanded in southern California with most members finding their way back to Utah. One member is credited with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, forecasting the Gold Rush.

Without detailing all of the subsequent Utah history, it is sufficient to say that the status of the area was that of a territory of the United States. It was a territory until the 1890s when statehood was granted. 

Because the practice of polygamy was occurring within the territory, any state’s prohibition did not apply. US territorial laws at the time had no mention of bigamy or polygamy. It was up to the US Congress and/or the US Supreme Court to implement a territorial law which would generally conform to the laws of the several states. The Congress acted and it was appealed to the Supreme Court.

In Reynolds vs. United States (1878), The US Supreme Court, after rationalizing the Anglo American tradition of monogamy, affirmed the law proscribing polygamy as constitutional. From that time until 1890 the church refused to officially recognize the law. Statehood was denied the Utah territory until it would conform to law. Still the church refused to conform. The Federal government finally escheated (confiscated) all the property of the church as a penalty to make it conform.

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Retired Designer-Builder formerly practicing Attorney at Law.

Credentials include ordaining a Black man to priesthood in the LDS Church leading to a public struggle with the church yielding and ordaining Black men about 2 years (more...)
 
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This is by far the shoddiest piece of journalism I... by Shelly Martin on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 9:33:25 AM
Every time this author posts a column, you know wh... by Sam Rogers on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 10:52:15 AM
Doug Wallace is always entertaining, if you aren&#... by John Wilkins on Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009 at 1:23:25 PM