Images of Hate - Ministers of Fear
By Ronnie Bray
Why is this site necessary?
Because there are two Versions of Mormonism
Our own true and accurate version and another
that is deliberately distorted.
The distorted version exists because
"An enemy hath done this ... "
No question is ever settled
until it is settled right
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In an age that takes a certain pride in its tolerance and respect, it is something of a tragedy that this unashamedly apologetic work is necessary. Succeeding generations of Latter-day Saints have explained themselves, their doctrine, practice, teaching, and history to armies of hostile critics. Have they listened? There is no evidence that they have. The shelves of Christian bookshops groan under a welter of anti-Mormon materials. The purpose of these materials is to strike at the foundation of the Restored Gospel. The ultimate aim is the discomfiture and destruction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apart from this objective being unattainable, it is darkly grim in its essence. That a Christian ministry should be engaged in no better pursuit than destructive attacks on another Christian group is an extreme tragedy.
The Church grows from strength to strength. Much of this growth it owes to the very forces that seek to weaken it. Persecution to convince the persecuted that they are right in their belief system. It serves to entrench the harried in their positions with greater determination. Disagreeing with a particular religious belief is not persecution, or all would be persecuted. Persecution is any activity that is intended to cause harm to another. The harm intended may be to a reputation. This is in order that it becomes difficult to take the maligned reputation seriously, or to reduce the person so travestied to a joke which makes it unlikely that his or her claims will be taken seriously enough to be even listened to. Persecution does not address itself to scientific description. Rather it distorts science - usually history - to present an image which, it is claimed with gravamen, represents the reality of the subject.
Two Versions Of Mormonism
There are two versions of "Mormonism." The first is that religious belief as understood, practised and experienced by millions of Christians who exercise their Christianity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church.
Their religious experience is satisfying, uplifting, and inspiring. Mormonism provides Latter-day Saints with a God-centred model of human existence; a Father in Heaven who purposefully directs the broad sweep of human history; a Christ-centred system of universal salvation; an optimistic view of human nature coupled with the firm belief of a divine destiny all humankind including the promise of being 'joint heirs with Christ' and exaltation to Godhood. It is a practical, world-accepting, work-a-day religion that affirms a world-rejecting apocalyptic end of human history, in which God will finally usher in his kingdom to signal the end of this present age.
The second 'Mormonism' is a dark fiction: a series of images created by hostile forces that bears no resemblance to the Mormonism experienced by Latter-day Saints. These are generated to misinform and mislead and are images of hate whose creators endeavour to appear as Christian ministers but who in reality are ministers of fear.
Our concern in this work is the second 'Mormonism' - the invented one - and with those who construct its powerful negative imagery. Our research provides opportunity for comparison between the two models, the false and the true, and readers are invited to make up their minds from the evidence. We view historical facts, contemporary witnesses, and a mountain of documentary evidence. The nature and motivation of hostile ministries are considered, as are their reasons for existence in a Christian context.
Christians cope with the confusing demands of the human condition with frail, all too human faculties. Little wonder, therefore, that some fall short of the example set by the Master. Christianity is an historical religion founded upon certain events; the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is general agreement across the wide range of Christian opinion what those events are, yet wide divergence how they are interpreted. The definition of orthodoxy places some shades of opinion within the pale of heterodoxy, and "heretics" are fair game for predators. While the history of such persecution makes austere reading, the final chapter of religious persecution by Christian against Christian remains unwritten.
Following the American pattern, British persecuting ministries are multiplying and gaining popularity among a certain class of Christian, though their numbers are small, and their impact must not be exaggerated. The lengths to which some go in efforts to sound convincing that they are engaged in a righteous Christian battle with a deadly Satanic enemy is exposed. It is probable that since mediaeval times no group of Christians has attracted more negative attention from fellow followers of Jesus Christ than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as Mormons, and its teachings as 'Mormonism'. These names were originally applied pejoratively, as was the appellation 'Christian', and since no elegant noun has been coined for 'Mormonism' the term is employed here to avoid awkwardness. The members of the church are called 'Saints', the word used in the Bible to describe members of the community of the faithful.
Persecution of Latter-day Saints began before the church had been formally organised. Initially attention was focused on the production and nature of the Book of Mormon. Once the church had been organised the character of the Prophet Joseph Smith was attacked also. Some time later leading men in the church came under the same antagonistic scrutiny.
The church grew rapidly in the face of confidant predictions that it would quickly die a natural death. Mormons formed a distinctive socio-religious community that was attacked by a burgeoning army of religious and political enemies. The subsequent sufferings endured by the Saints serves as a caution to any who think persecution can wear an innocent face. Sarcastic articles and letters in newspapers gave way to more serious accusations as barrackers and hecklers turned to more serious forms of molestation. Beatings, tarring and feathering, horsewhipping, stock either driven off, stolen, or killed, property and crops burned, indiscriminate plunder, rape and murder were the stock-in-trade of the malevolent and depraved who railed against the Restored Gospel, frequently led and egged-on by Christian ministers.
Three questions explore the part played by religious factors in anti-Mormon persecution?
1. What is there about Latter-day Saints and their religion that generates intense hatred in some Christians?
2 Why do otherwise good-hearted Christians relentlessly persecute the Saints and their religion, often with marked savagery?
3. How do persecutors justify their dislike and hatred of Christians about whom they often have no direct knowledge?
Our task here is to offer answers to these questions. Many anti-Mormon publications have been researched, but only those properly defined as persecutory are used. Persecution is defined here as the 'pursuit of a perceived enemy with intent to injure.' We look at images used in persecution and show where justice, truth and fair play are set aside. Some will be shocked at the tactics and devices employed by persecutors who pull no punches and do not spare the sensibilities of their targets. Evidence is given of the callous vigour with which the persecutors unmercifully harry their victims.
Many of the contributions appear as far-fetched but harmless stories such as were part of the folk-lore of bygone days, whose modern counterparts are so-called urban myths. These unlikely tales are recounted in ways that the worst possible construction is forced from them. Innuendo cleverly to leads the reader to conclusions for which evidence is lacking. Such tactics are not in keeping with Christian profession. those who believe in a moral God, are required to be moral themselves.
Many Latter-day Saints become aware of anti-Mormon ministries and their publications when these materials are pushed through their letter-boxes, usually anonymously. Lorri MacGregor, the founder of MacGregor Ministries, a hate group that was forced to shut down by the Canadian Government for contravening its laws against inciting religious hatred, invited her readership to send names and addresses of 'cult members' and those being 'visited by the cults.' In return she promises - for a small fee - to send to them 'anti-cult information' anonymously.
You can help by sending us the names of every person you know involved in a cult group. Special material directed against the group they are involved in is sent. Send cult name and name and address of person, and $1.50 per name. Your name is kept confidential.
It seesm odd that those who conduct such ministries are unable to see the incongruity when they accuse Latter-day Saints of operating by subterfuge.
Frequent reference is made to 'imagery.' In our present context imagery refers to the figurative literary and verbal illustrations constructed to present negative impressions of Latter-day Saints and Mormonism. These are either ahistorical, anti-historical, misrepresentations or decontextualisations. Often they are a combination of one or more forms of distortion that do not portray the experience of Latter-day Saints but deliberately diverge from the essential nature of Latter-day Saint beliefs in order to represent it as a system alien and hostile to Christianity. These images are made to play on the anxieties of the uncertain and ignorant in order to generate superlatively real fears, which in turn deter the merely curious as well as the serious enquirer into the claims of Mormonism.
Not all publications about the church are negative. There are many excellent surveys of various aspects of Mormonism by non-Latter-day Saint scholars. Notable among them are the works of Ray B. West Jr., Robert Mullen, Wallace Turner, Thomas F. O'Dea, Shephard and Shephard, etc. Some writers take a scientific approach whilst others take a journalistic one. Their strength lies in the fact that having no axes to grind they strive to show the church as experienced and understood by its members. Later, the works of former members will be discussed to determine how their altered subjectivity apparently compels them to reinterpret, distort and even openly lie about their experience and knowledge.
An example of image construction and manipulation is furnished by an organization jealous of its own wholesome image. It portrays itself through the eyes of a rival ideology and goes as far as crediting Pravda with generating and publishing the article. The article has been changed slightly to conceal its target until the end.
A Pravda survey reveals that an organization in America is turning youngsters into hostile, warmongering imperialists. Every boy who is forced to join the organization is trained to be a master of all forms of espionage, violence and germ warfare. He quickly becomes a very dangerous tool of the ruthless United States government.
At the age of 8 or 9, innocent American boys are forcibly herded into the organization, which prepares them for foul deeds.
The organization's dictators force the youth to worship the wolf, one of the most vicious and uncivilized of predatory animals.
After three years of service in the preliminary organization the boys, now howling adolescents, are forced to join the senior, more corrupt arm of the organization. The most deceitful ritual is the shameful 'Court of Honour,' where the young warmongers are decorated with so-called merit badges. It is here they receive awards for their work in such insidious fields as 'swimming'(underwater espionage and sabotage); pathfinding (counter-espionage); and pioneering (exploitation of under-developed nations).
In their efforts to completely control American youth the organization's czars have set up a sister organization. This ill-conceived group turns girls into unpaid door-to-door biscuit vendors. The proceeds of these sales, of course, go to the Wall Street masterminds of the entire plot.
The organizations are, of course, the Cub, Boy and Girl Scouts of America. The article was published in Telescout, a publication of the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America. It is presented as a Pravda editorial. It is easy to see that the article is a nonsense. Its descriptions of the activities of the Scout groups are deliberate distortions of what really takes place. Fortunately everyone has sufficient knowledge of what the Scouts are about to spot the spoof.
How sad that insufficient Christians have first-hand knowledge of Mormonism. It is equally sad that they can not count members of the Latter-day Saint Church among their friends. That would be sufficient to guarantee that no anti-Mormon ministry was able to get away with spreading lies about the church. It was precisely such contact knowledge of the church and its members that enabled neighbours to rise to their defence when the film “The Godmakers” was shown in one neighbourhood.
"GODMAKERS" and the Public Schools
When Religious Persecution Becomes a Constitutionally-Protected Freedom
. . . We received a letter from the Ku Klux Klan commander in Santaquin saying that it is not hate, but love (of the white race) that best describes the goals of his organization. Likewise the Ex-Mormons for Jesus say it is love for the Mormons, not hate, that drives them in their efforts to destroy the Mormon Church. I suppose Adolph Hitler believed it was not hate for the Jews, but rather love for Germany, that motivated him to ship Jewish Germans off to Auschwitz and Dachau.
And Hitler did not ship trainloads of Jews off to Dachau the first week in office. The persecution and eventual annihilation of millions of Jews was preceded by years of careful anti-Jewish propaganda similar to the anti-Mormon propaganda presented in the movie "The Godmakers." Before the German people would allow the annihilation of millions of Jews, they had to be convinced that Judaism was a sinister force, an evil that society must be rid of. Germans were given convincing arguments about how Jewish businessmen were responsible for unemployment, food shortages, and runaway inflation. Hitler would have been delighted to have a film like "The Godmakers" that focused on Judaism instead of Mormonism.
There are those who say nothing like what happened in Germany could ever happen in America. But Mormons know differently. In 1838 the governor of Missouri issued an official order for the extermination of all Mormons who refused to leave the state. When public sentiment is inflamed against a people or a religion, constitutional protection crumbles. The film "The Godmakers" is intended to inflame public sentiment against the Mormons.
There are those who say the film "Godmakers" is not religious persecution but merely a presentation of facts designed to open the eyes of those who have been deceived by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I have seen the movie "Godmakers" and taken careful notes. The film could best be described as a skilful presentation of truth, half-truth and innuendo to depict the Mormon Church as a sinister Satan cult bent on destroying families, distorting the Bible and suppressing blacks and women while encouraging sexual excess on the part of its leaders.
The problem Mormons are having with this film is that it distorts and caricaturizes sacred doctrine.
It is no wonder that a Protestant minister in Phoenix called the film religious pornography after seeing it. LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City call it a vicious attack on the Church . .
"Godmakers" has the usual amount of mudslinging one might expect in a production of that sort, calling the LDS Church a sect that is into the occult and Satanism. The movie claims that in Chinese the word "Mormon" means "Gates of Hell." . . .
And of course the film wouldn't be complete without the claim that the Mormon Church is not a Christian Church . . . The interesting thing is that the people who produced and show this film call themselves Christians.
Especially noteworthy are the contributions to hostile ministries of ex-Mormons. Some people do leave the church, just as people leave every church. Sadly some of them adopt an antagonistic attitude towards their former friends and faith. They are aware that their distortion of the Restored Gospel runs counter to their knowledge and experience.
Whether mendacity is the price they must pay for acceptance among their new friends, or else they have undergone a sea-change that makes them believe they are now enlightened after being deluded during their Latter-day Saint years is a question meriting further study. One barrier to reaching understanding in this direction is that they often refuse to tell the truth about themselves and their experiences.
In researching material for this work distinction has been made between critical material which challenges the historical, philosophical and religious foundations of Mormonism as serious debate, and material which deliberately distorts and misrepresents in the cause of persecution and presents subjective fiction as objective fact.
Some quotations are used more than once because they illustrate more than one point. In other places lengthy quotations are included for the important details they contain.
All quotations are verbatim as they appear in primary and secondary sources.
No emphasis has been added. All emphases are original to the source.
Spellings appear as in the original documents even where they are not correct.
The use of 'sic' is kept to a minimum.