First, the economy is in the toilet. The numbers get worse every day. We can’t see the end of the slump, only the end of the American economy as we know it.
Second, Mormonism is going to seize the country and turn the 50 states of the union into 50 stakes of Zion. (You can Google the Mormon terminology here.) With Mitt Romney’s election, the country will be run by the sinister LDS brotherhood in Salt Lake City that is the real force behind the Illuminati.
Given these two concerns, it seems to me that Mormons and non-Mormons alike ought to regard Businessweek’s recent cover story, “How the Mormons Make Money”, as a harbinger of salvation. I’m befuddled that no one sees it: the LDS Church —an institution of devilishly clever and hellishly successful economic strategies—is poised to rescue the country from financial ruin.
While Greece, then Spain, then Italy, and, ultimately, even Germany fall onto desiccating austerity measures in an attempt to keep the European Union from standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign reading “Will Socialize for Food”, the LDS Church will require Mitt Romney to donate the country, and will turn its newest holding into the “North American Cultural Center”, free of the United States’ arcane and perforated tax code, and operated instead by a combination of a ten-percent tithe-mandate (made possible by a pliant Supreme Court), an unpaid government bureau, the conversion of Canada into one, big cattle ranch, partial ownership of profitable countries (Monaco, Bermuda, the Isle of Man, Asia), and $50 admission fees for immigrants ($299 for VIP immigration, which includes a Visa gold card and a box of scented candles).
Businessweek proves (again) that Mormonism is essentially, insanely, American.
And we have the federal government to thank for the capitalist powerhouse that the LDS Church has become. In the second half of the nineteenth century, while Mormonism was still teething, the U.S. government levied execrable persecution on Mormons in Utah. When sending its largest peace-time army to Utah didn’t subjugate those seditious Mormons, when disenfranchising Mormon women by taking away the voting rights they’d had as early as 1870 didn’t work and Mormons were still determined to be religiously free, the government seized Mormon property and funds, driving the LDS Church to the brink of financial collapse. The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, for instance, disincorporated the LDS Church and simply appropriated the money from the church’s “Perpetual Immigration Fund”. My friend Paul Finkelman, McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School, regards the way the government of the United States treated nineteenth century Mormons as “the most disgraceful denial of religious freedom in American history, matching the Japanese Internment for outrageous federal behavior.”
Since 1900, the LDS Church has been engaged in a concentrated and fiendishly resourceful effort to make itself financially secure against such onslaughts, and Businessweek shows us just how successful it has been. The LDS Church has made saving money a theological virtue and living in debt a sin. I grew up as a Utah Mormon feeling as though taking out a loan was a significant blot on my character. In weeks in which I spend more than I make, I still feel like my eternal soul is in jeopardy.
Given that no one else in the United States these days seems to have the answer, don’t we want the LDS vision to appropriate the country?
As for the cover illustration, I am similarly befuddled by the hullabaloo. Religious folks—Mormon and non-Mormon—are squealing that a cover like this is insulting, demeaning, and constitutes an affront to religion, since we’re supposed to understand that Jesus would never advocate both ravenous and prudent business practices in his name.
But the glowing figure on Businessweek’s cover is not Jesus. It’s not clear who it is, I guess, because you can’t see the scar, but the fact that this is actually John the Baptist telling Joe Smith and his buddy Oliver Cowdery to go out and buy shopping malls should give everyone cause to relax. In a straightforwardly political maneuver, Jesus, who can see as well as anyone the state of America’s economy, but who can’t be seen to waffle on the matter of lilies growing without purse or scrip, sends out a surrogate to deliver the distasteful, but eminently practical, Mormon gospel, from which Jesus can distance himself later, as necessary. ...
David Mason is an associate professor at Rhodes College in Memphis. He is the author of “Theatre and Religion on Krishna’s Stage” and “My Mormonism: a primer for non-Mormons and Mormons, alike.”