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New Religious Movements of Nineteenth-Century America Volume 2: Latter-Day Saints.

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Presentation on theme: "New Religious Movements of Nineteenth-Century America Volume 2: Latter-Day Saints."— Presentation transcript:

1 New Religious Movements of Nineteenth-Century America Volume 2: Latter-Day Saints

2 Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. Mormons) An American Revealed Scriptural Religion A Sacred History for the Americas An American Version of the Exodus Narrative

3 Latter-Day Saints (LDS) The Latter-Day Saints’ cosmology addresses some provocative questions that European and European-American Protestants had been asking themselves since the Reformation: If God was omniscient, why didn’t the Bible contain mention of the Americas? If God spoke in ancient times through revelation, why would God refrain from doing so now? If God allowed multiple wives to the Prophets, should modern Prophets receive the same?

4 Red Jacket/Sat-go-ye-wat-ha ( ) Seneca chief and skilled orator Spoke against the plethora of Christian missionaries sent to the Seneca Used reasoned arguments against proselytizing His speeches were well-known in upstate New York, where Joseph Smith grew up His most famous speech, in opposition to Missionary Cram, came in 1805

5 Speech to Missionary Cram “You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us.” “You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his mind, and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true?”

6 Speech to Missionary Cram “We understand that your religion is written in a book. If it was intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did he not give to our forefathers, the knowledge of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?” “Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the book?”

7 Joseph Smith ( ) Born in Vermont, but grew up in upstate New York during the Second Great Awakening Confused by the preachers from different religions, he followed Biblical advice (James 1:5), asking God what religion he should join

8 First Grand Heirophany God the Father and Jesus the Son appear to him and tell Joseph Smith that the perfect, true religion will be revealed to him if he waits faithfully

9 Joseph Smith’s 2 nd Grand Hierophany: A Visit from Moroni in September 1823 On the evening of the … twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.

10 Joseph Smith’s Grand Hierophany: A Visit from Moroni in September 1823 While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.

11 Joseph Smith’s Grand Hierophany: A Visit from Moroni in September 1823 Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me. He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

12 Urim and Thummim Also, that there were two stones in silver bows--and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim--deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted "seers" in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.

13 The Book of Mormon Moroni directed Smith to an additional volume of sacred scripture at a hilltop in Palmyra, NY, known in LDS lore as the Hill Cumorah Smith translates the ancient tablets with the Urim and Thummim, and with the help of his wife Emma Published The Book of Mormon in 1830

14 Where are the Tablets? After Smith translated The Book of Mormon, God took the tablets into heaven to keep them from falling into the hands of enemies of the LDS.

15 The Testimony of Three Witnesses Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris

16 The Contents of The Book of Mormon The sacred history of the Americas Maintains that monotheistic Hebrews had lived in the Americas from 600 BCE to 421 CE Lehi led his family from Palestine to America

17 Laman v. Nephi Laman, the eldest son, not very interested in matters religious, joins the native people and reverts to paganism Nephi, the youngest son, is a prophet and a believer in God Descendents of Laman, called Lamanites = Native Americans Nephi disputing Laman and Lemeul

18 The Nephites Descendants of Nephi Upholders of revealed religion Subject to frequent backsliding Receive a string of remarkably accurate prophets, but still weak in their faith

19 Christ Visits the Nephites The post-resurrection Jesus appears to the Nephites in 34 CE, around present-day Mexico City. He makes a series of prophecies, including predicting the American Revolution and Joseph Smith’s prophethood.

20 3 Nephi 21 Israel will be gathered when the Book of Mormon comes forth—The Gentiles will be established as a free people in America—They will be saved if they believe and obey; otherwise, they will be cut off and destroyed—Israel will build the New Jerusalem, and the lost tribes will return. “And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long disperson, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;…(it) shall be made known unto the Gentiles that they may know concerning this people (Native Americans) who are a remnant of the house of Jacob.” (3 Nephi 21: 1-2)

21 3 Nephi 21 “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land (i.e. North America), and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father (i.e. the American Revolution), that these things might come forth from them (the Gentiles) unto a remnant of your seed (Native Americans)…” (verse 4) “Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots…” (verse 14)

22 3 Nephi 21 “And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away. For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel; And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them…” (verses 19-21) “But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them…” (verse 22)

23 And yet… Despite receiving this significant visit from Jesus, the Nephites continue to backslide They lose numerous battles to the Lamanites, until their territory, inevitably, shrinks Under their leader Mormon, the Nephites are confined to “a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” – upstate New York (Mormon 6:4) Mormon

24 The Battle at Hill Cumorah 385 CE The Nephites take the field with 220,024 men The Lamanites slay 220,000 Nephites in battle The 24 survivors include Mormon and his son Moroni Mormon knows it is the end of the Nephites Asks Moroni to bury the tablets

25 Mormon’s Lament “And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried: O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.” (Mormon 6:16-18) Mormon instructing Moroni regarding the tablets

26 Claims of the Book of Mormon With the recovery of the Book of Mormon – considered Another Testament by the LDS – we are in the Latter-Days, the last era before the Second Coming of Christ The LDS are yet another eschatologically- based new denomination of Christianity If we obey God’s simple commands, we will be blessed; if we disobey, we will be destroyed (cp. Winthrop’s covenant)

27 Opposition to the Book of Mormon When Smith published The Book of Mormon, he was met with ridicule and persecution from his New York State neighbors He was tarred and feathered, as illustrated here At the same time, he started to grow the Church, and gain converts Soon he was able to establish missions to Europe

28 Organizing the LDS Community As with other NRMs of the 19 th century, Smith’s vision for the LDS was communal He established the LDS community first in Kirtland, Ohio, near Cleveland

29 Peregrinations of the LDS Community Persecution and economic turmoil caused the Latter-Day Saints to move from NY to Ohio to Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois between 1830 and 1844

30 The Missouri prophecies and persectuions Joseph Smith had a revelation predicting the Second Coming of Christ would happen in Missouri Latter-Day Saints moved to Missouri sites in the 1830s The LDS clashed with Southern immigrants to Missouri This led to an infamous 1838 law…

31 Missouri law against the LDS Missouri Executive Order 44 stated “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace--their outrages are beyond all description.” The Order was not formally rescinded until June 1976!

32 Ending the Missouri Extermination! WHEREAS, on October 27, 1838, the Governor of the State of Missouri, Lilburn W. Boggs, signed an order calling for the extermination or expulsion of Mormons from the State of Missouri; and WHEREAS, Governor Boggs' order clearly contravened the rights to life, liberty, property and religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of the State of Missouri; and WHEREAS, in this bicentennial year as we reflect on our nation's heritage, the exercise of religious freedom is without question one of the basic tenets of our free democratic republic; Now, THEREFORE, I, CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Governor of the State of Missouri, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the State of Missouri, do hereby order as follows: Expressing on behalf of all Missourians our deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by the 1838 order, I hereby rescind Executive Order Number 44, dated October 27, 1838, issued by Governor W. Boggs. In witness I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the great seal of the State of Missouri, in the city of Jefferson, on this 25 day of June, (Signed) Christopher S. Bond, Governor

33 The LDS in Nauvoo Smith moves the center of LDS life to Nauvoo, Illinois Smith becomes politically popular Smith secretly introduces plural marriage Smith has enemies, including ex-LDS His enemies bait him with rumors He destroys their printing press The governor of Illinois moves to arrest Smith

34 The Assassination of Joseph Smith June 27, 1844 Jail cell in Carthage, IL Mob had been told when to strike Smith’s brother Hyrum also killed John Taylor, future president of church, an eye- witness

35 Brigham Young ( ) Born in Vermont Joined the LDS in 1832 Successful missionary to England Succeeds Smith as President of the Church Leads LDS community to Great Salt Lake valley Nicknamed “American Moses” for leading the Exodus

36 The Journey Note that the Salt Lake was part of Mexico in 1847

37 The Exodus Narrative We have now seen three distinct American communities who see themselves re-enacting the Exodus narrative from the Bible: – Winthrop and the Puritans – Enslaved African-Americans – The Latter-Day Saints

38 The Exodus Narrative Three distinct American communities see themselves re-enacting the Exodus narrative from the Bible: – Winthrop and the Puritans – Enslaved African-Americans – The Latter-Day Saints Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her people

39 The Exodus Narrative Three distinct American communities who see themselves re-enacting the Exodus narrative from the Bible: – Winthrop and the Puritans – Enslaved African-Americans – The Latter-Day Saints

40 Why the California Gull is the State Bird of Utah California Gulls arrived at the Salt Lake just in time to eat a plague of locusts that had descended upon, and were devouring, the Mormon settlers’ first set of crops. This sculpture in Temple Square in Salt Lake City commemorates that event. California Gulls are common in the South Bay here, too!

41 Latter-day Saint Polygamy Doctrine of plural marriage a component of a cosmology of many levels of existence Instituted secretly by Joseph Smith, practice openly announced by Brigham Young and church leaders in 1853 Mostly church leaders and elite who had multiple wives

42 The War Against the Mormons President Buchanan sent troops to fight against the LDS in the so-called Utah War of The Republican platform of 1856 called for “Wiping Out the Twin Relics of Barbarism: Slavery and Polygamy” President James Buchanan, 15 th president of the United States. Fortunately the only President Buchanan we’ve ever had

43 Polygamy Ends LDS argued/lobbied for biblical and social bases for polygamy, and religious freedom Supreme Court, presidents, and both houses of Congress set to defend marriage LDS officially gives up polygamy in 1890 Renegade groups still practice polygamy, but they are not recognized by LDS church leadership Wilford Woodruff, President of LDS when polygamy ended

44 LDS Practices: Missions All young men are required to go on a two-year mission These are often to foreign countries There are many products for sale at LDS stores for missionaries (and their mothers!) CTR = Choose the Right, an LDS tag line About proper behavior and moral rectitude

45 LDS Community The LDS has retained communal ideals from the 19 th century, such as mutual aid and welfare Marriage and child- rearing are considered cosmological linch- pins, and generate community support

46 LDS Cosmology of the Family Families move through eternity together Babies are waiting to be born into this physical existence Marriage, and having children, is not just a good idea – it is a Godly ideal and a cosmic duty This doctrine accounts for the consistent LDS resistance to same-sex marriage

47 LDS Cosmology of Race, Then and Now Through much of the 19 th and 20 th centuries, the LDS excluded African-Americans from being full members of the church, due to their reading of the curse of Ham In 1978, the church leadership received a revelation from God, removing this doctrine and allowing for full African-American participation

48 LDS Cosmology of Race, Then and Now The Book of Mormon makes references to the Lamanites (Native Americans) as swarthy, dark, and savage Joseph Smith suggested that LDS ought to intermarry with Lamanites to make their progeny more white Despite the apparent prejudice, the LDS church has had a better record of proselytizing success with Native Americans than most Christian groups, because they have a plausible historic narrative of God’s actions that includes Native Americans.

49 LDS Temples and Baptisms Video from CNN, April 2012 LDS Temple Kansas City


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