Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Use of sources/The Mormon Quest for Power

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Introduction, A Thread of Prophecy: The Mormon Quest for Power

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes

Author's Claims

One Nation under Gods, page xvii-xviii (hardback); page xi-xii (paperback)

The book claims that the "Mormon American dream" is to transform the United States government into a "Mormon-ruled theocracy." The hardback edition claims that this "continues to be a dominant element of the faith," while the paperback edition changes this, and instead claims that this topic "has never ceased being a popular topic of discussion" within the Church. Support for this claim in both editions is provided using the following quote from Fred Esplin, who is said to be a "Mormon journalist" and University of Utah spokesperson:

Mormons believe they have a divine commission to prepare the world for Christ's millennial [i.e., 1000-year] reign in which they will serve as officers and administrators. The faithful Saint believes he is building the Kingdom of God. This is what motivates thirty-thousand full-time missionaries [60,000 in 2002] to preach the gospel, and this is what keeps men in their eighties working at a pace that would pitch younger, less-motivated men into their graves.

Author's Sources

Endnote 5, page 479 (hardback); page 477 (paperback)

Fred Esplin, "The Saints Go Marching On," Utah Holiday, June 1981, 34.

Detailed Analysis

The use of this quote shows a distinct and deep-rooted misunderstanding of Mormons. The change in the paperback edition from a "dominant element of the faith" to a "popular topic of discussion for Smith's followers," is still out of touch with reality—the "transformation of the U.S. government into a Mormon-ruled theocracy" is never a subject of discussion among Latter-day Saints. The only people who discuss this subject on a regular basis are critics of the Church.

First of all, notice that the author, not Esplin, asserts that the desire to transform the US Government into a Mormon-ruled theocracy "continues to be a dominant element of the faith." The first question one could reasonably ask is how this could possibly be. Is the author suggesting that the "dominant" nature of this aspiration is evidenced somehow by the current teachings within the Church? If so, where are those teachings? The case for this concept as a current teaching is never fully presented, developed or supported; it is only asserted.

Further, does the author believe that such a teaching would hold any relevance for the non-US majority of the Church's members? Of the eleven-million-plus members in the Church, well over 50% live outside of the United States, and it is reasonable to assume that for them, a desire to somehow transform the US Government would be somewhat less than dominant. Of course, the average non-LDS reader may not be aware of the incongruity of the author's assertion in the reality of a world-wide Church.

The use of Esplin's Utah Holiday quote is very odd, particularly since Esplin is not talking about the US Government or an LDS takeover. Instead, Esplin is discussing missionary work in this portion of his article, and is explaining what motivates the membership to do such work. As Esplin clearly explains, the motivation is a desire to prepare the world and its peoples for the return of Jesus Christ, not a desire for taking over the US Government. The author apparently confuses the two issues as he asserts that Esplin's quote "explains" his concept of the Church's alleged real goal. Thus, the author uses a quote explaining one facet of LDS membership to support an assertion with which it has nothing whatsoever to do.

It is interesting to note that the author chooses not to use an earlier statement by Esplin, in the previous paragraph of the same article, where he says,

While the most cynical might suggest that a subliminal quest for power flaws the Mormon character...such simplistic explanations ignore the core of the faith: Nearly every believing Mormon is convinced he or she is a steward of a divinely restored plan and is under the obligation to share it with others. While the only non-Mormon on a suburban Salt Lake Valley block no doubt finds little comfort in this explanation, it is difficult to understand the Saints without appreciating this.