Mormons’ love-hate relationship with America

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SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) As Americans celebrate the nation's founding, some Mormons may outdo their neighbors this week in fireworks, fanfare and frenzy to express their outsized patriotism. Other Mormons caution against linking political perspectives on American exceptionalism to specific theology or teachings. Peggy Fletcher Stack.

  • deerjerkydave

    The principles upon which the nation were founded are ideal, even inspired. For example the Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal. America has not always lived up to those ideals because, after all, it is made up of imperfect people. But imperfection or even the inability to live up to American ideals is never reason to abandon them altogether.

  • Ira Dernotsei

    Did you hear the one about the Jew and a Morman, one Friday night walk into a bar…?

    Sorry, it never happened.

  • Kingsfold

    I read the article twice and still couldn’t find evidence of the “hate” half of our love-hate relationship with the United States.

    While it’s true that Orson Pratt (a member of the Quorum of the Twelve– never the president of the Church or a member of the First Presidency) and others made statements like the above that they were glad to leave, providing a little more context than chalking it up to “wholesale expulsions” might be beneficial.

    Please keep in mind that those daring to affiliate with the group called “Mormons” were ridiculed, vilified, and threatened (or worse), everywhere they went, from the beginning of the group’s existence. Taking ownership of a mosquito-infested swamp on the banks of the Mississippi river in 1839, thanks to welcoming words from the state of Illinois, they believed that perhaps then they could find safety and peace. Not so. Within five years, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum would be murdered inside the walls of a jail intended to ensure their safety. Within another two years, masses of church members would pack up everything they had left after selling most of their life’s possessions for pennies on the dollar, cross the frozen Mississippi river, and begin a voyage beyond the then-borders of the United States.

    They had been struck, turned the other cheek, and been struck again and again (and again). Who of us would *not* utter a few less-than-sanguine words about the nation we were about to leave?

    Yes– we believe (as most other Americans do) that the United States has problems and challenges, and yes, we believe in the Book of Mormon that ends with the annihilation of a whole race of its inhabitants, but I think it will be difficult for you to find any member of the Church that *hates* the United States of America.

    But then again– it’s a snappy headline. So what if it doesn’t really summarize the article. (Shrugs.)

  • Digger2000

    Mutants have ‘extra chromosomes”. Most mutations are dangerous both to the carrier and the rest of the population

    “When it comes to American exceptionalism, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, recently said, “Mormons sort of have an extra chromosome.””

  • Bob Waldrop

    Whatever the doctrine of American Exceptionalism is, it is NOT a Christian doctrine. All are one in the Kingdom of God. The doctrine of American Exceptionalism has always served the cause of violence, murder and theft. Just as the Native Americans, who were the first to feel its wrath. Then speak with the people of the Phillippines whom we ruthlessly murdered in large quantities because they wanted to govern themselves and that wasn’t out plan.

  • Proofreader

    There’s a sentence there that reads: ““America is a land of promise (in the Book of Mormon) — until it’s not,” Barlow says.” Who’s Barlow? Very badly written or edited story.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The modern revelations recorded in the book of Doctrine and Covenants are very explicit about God “raising up” the men who were the Founding Fathers and gave us the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. However, they do not say that the documents are scripture. The principles they embody of the freedom and sovereignty of the people, especially in their exercise of religious freedom, were things that were very unique in the world two centuries ago, but those documents have become a standard by which every new nation is judged.

    It should not be forgotten that, despite the original intent to establish a community in a place isolated from the rest of the United States, the Mormons provided a battalion of 500 men to help the United States take the American Southwest from Mexico during the Mexican War, and thus ensure that the Valley of the Great Salt Lake would be US territory.

    The United States was determined to stamp out the distinctiveness of the Mormons. One of the reasons they were resented was the large number of European immigrants who joined the Church and immigrated to Utah. Many Americans saw the unity of the Mormons, including their determination to support each other’s businesses in a closed economy, as a threat to their own desire to make money in the conventional American way.

    The Book of Mormon pronounces the special place of the Americas as both a blessing and a curse, responsive to the reighteousness or wickedness of its inhabitants. The Mormon attitude is, With great abilities come great responsibilities.

    Consider the objective evidence for a special place for America in the history of the world. If the USA did not exist, who would have rescued the world from the Nazis and Imperial Japan? If the USA did not exist, who would have promoted the freedom of the nations of eastern Europe? The liberty and prosperity of half the world is directly attributable to the prosperity of the United States and its idealistic willingness to use those resources on behalf of the rest of the world, rather than seek a position of imperial dominance. Resisting the secession of the Confederate States may not seem worth the loss of life of the Civil War, unless you also count the loss to all of humanity if there had not been a united USA able to guard freedom around the world in the 20th Century.