Welcome to Kay Burningham's blog
about Mormonism: An American Fraud


Meet Kay Burningham,
attorney, advocate, and author of
An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism

Here we discuss the truth about Mormonism--what people know, but are afraid to say and what others don't know, but are afraid to learn.


Please visit Kay's official site at kayburningham.com




Excerpt from Reader review

"...Kay Burningham’s painstaking studies unfolded for her, and now her readers, the details of a grotesque fraud of cosmic proportions masquerading under a charitable fa├žade of public spirited nobility. In her book, Kay demonstrates for the world to see, how a reasonable application of the law should be applied to the “affinity fraud” of Mormonism, whose very continued existence employs the quiet acquiescence of government officials and judicial officers whose canons of ethics demand of them a higher standard than to allow this fraud to continue unchecked.

An American Fraud: One Lawyer’s Case against Mormonism, is, ..., an historically significant work that calls out the most insidious fraud of American culture for what it is. It is a timeless masterpiece, and will be associated with the beginning of the end of Mormonism in years to come.


For more information about the book, click here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December, 2011—Mormons in the News

December has been filled with lots of Mormon news: the Trinity College survey on Mormons in America was published, showing that LDS numbers are historically over-reported by the Church, that from 1990-2008 there was just as many leaving as joining, and that young men are apostatizing in droves, the LA Times December 4th report on Mitt Romney’s behemoth  Bain (bath!) Capital bankrupting of struggling businesses with ensuing job losses and now the SEC’s $200M affinity fraud charges filed against an LDS bishop and his son in Utah federal court.  For several days Utah’s Wasatch Front (along with Cache valley in the north) ranked collectively as the five counties with the worst air quality in the entire nation.

As I read these articles and noted the LDS Christmas schedule of activities, including a Christmas program at the huge LDS conference center, this year featuring actress Jane Seymour, I also read other news items from across the country about secret Santas paying off the layaway charges of struggling Americans at Wal-Mart, K-mart and Target.  In states as diverse as Oregon, Florida, Nebraska and Indiana, in the true spirit of the season, those who have been blessed are helping fellow Americans with their Christmas purchases.  I was struck by the contrast between the news-making Mormons and their environment and the news of average Americans during this holiday season.

Saturday, I worked late.  As I left the downtown high-rise, it was so dark the smog could almost be mistaken for a crisp nighttime fog.  The sidewalks and crosswalks were filled with crowds of LDS walking quickly toward temple square, or perhaps the conference center.  Despite the lack of snow, the downtown Christmas lights set a pretty backdrop for a horse-drawn carriage and its cargo.  The Season had arrived in Salt Lake.

When I was young, Utah Mormon Christmas celebrations were minimal; at most a few carols were sung on Christmas day—if it was on a Sunday.  Since those days in the 60s and 70s, the Church has upped its pageantry and now annual productions featuring the story of Jesus Christ’s birth and a special Christmas message from the LDS first presidency can be seen and heard. This move toward the celebration of a general Christianity (tithing settlement excluded) lasts only through the holiday season and is resurrected on Easter Sunday.   Though I’m certain some would rather forget him, the remainder of the year Joseph Smith cannot be ignored.

The Mormon Christmas product is a good one.  Here’s hoping that someday the LDS Church will evolve to a place without Smith and his schemes, but then, what would be the point?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Religious Bigotry

Since the beginning Mormons, who have generally been viewed unfavorably by any press but their own, have cried religious bigotry to those who take issue with their religion.  I say that it is time for bigotry to be redefined.  Discrimination is a term that has come to have a pejorative meaning.  This is understandable when applied to prejudice against those who cannot help their status because it is a function of birth or misfortune: race, gender, or disability.  These conditions are not a choice; becoming or staying a Mormon is.  However, one who discriminates (and I use this in the pure sense of the word) should be allowed to question and even reject an entire belief system when that system encompasses prejudicial discrimination against protected classes. 

The Caucasian male, the archetype of LDS rulers, rejects the dark-skinned and female as equals.   It's difficult to maintain a credible claim of religious bigotry when Mormonism's theology encompasses both gender and racial prejudice. To reject a belief system which, in and of itself embraces gender and racial bigotry, is not religious bigotry, it is common sense egalitarianism.   Unfortunately, only the most enlightened of our species appears to have any interest in this way of thinking.

So to the Mormon claim of religious intolerance I say yes—I am intolerant of your historic and current discrimination against blacks, Native Americans and women.  And I am even more intolerant of your attempts to cover-up and now claim that these sorts of bigoted views ever existed in your theology.

As for Mitt Romney—while it is clear that there can be no religious test for public office, it is also clear that one can examine a candidate’s integrity.  And here is the bite, Mitt, if you associate and stand by Mormonism you are a dupe, because intelligent people know that the religion is a fraud.  Conversely, if you know what we all know (and I suspect that you do) then you are a deceiver, because you continue to belong to, and have previously led, a group of religionists whose changing theology is based in lies and deception under the euphemism of continuing revelation.  No person of integrity, knowing the true foundation of this cult, and the extraordinary ignorance it breeds in its members, can or should continue on in association with it.  To do so is duplicitous to the core and certainly not a character trait that I want in my commander in chief.    

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A WOMAN'S WORTH

A few weeks ago, at BYU education week, women were packed in the Wilkinson Center auditorium to listen to Professor Susan Easton Black speak about LDS women. I cannot find a print copy of her speech, but Sarah Gambles reported for the BYU Daily Universe on August 18, 2011.[1]   I had to read the article about Professor Black’s talk more than once.  As reported:  

She said “[W]omen stand out in history for three reasons: 1) being the mother of a famous person, 2) being the wife of an important person and 3) race.”

Apparently the professor went on to give examples of her premise, naming Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith’s mother who staunchly defending her son and his religion.  She then named Emma Smith (no mention of her maiden name—Hale) Joseph’s first wife.  Black noted that Joseph called her “smart.”  Her reputation was as a literate woman and that she even led parades in Nauvoo. She also noted that Emma was also the only woman to have a section in the Doctrine and Covenants specifically for her.  D&C §132 reads that she [Emma] shall “be destroyed,” if she will not accept “celestial marriage.”  

Then, incredibly, under the vague category of “race,” Sarah Manning, a black woman who lived with the Smiths, is mentioned.  Though this part was not addressed by Professor Black, after a lifetime of service in the Smith household, Manning was sealed to Joseph Smith in the LDS Temple in 1894 by proxy as his servant for eternity!
The absolute misogyny inherent in this message is enough to make any enlightened person ill. These examples validate women based only on their gender or race, whether as mother, wife or black servant.  Any importance in their lives has been solely derivative; it is only due to their relationship to the founding prophet of Mormonism. 
 
What a transparent slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of LDS women, especially the polygamist wives of the 19th century.  No mention is made of the outspoken Ann Eliza Webb Young, who, with her attorneys helped to establish divorce rights for these abused women, and who testified in the U.S Congress against the horrendous nature of Mormon polygamy.  Fanny Stenhouse’s autobiography Tell it All, reveals that she was more intelligent and a better writer than any of the male Mormon leaders of her time.  Nothing is said of Eliza Snow’s poems or songs, of Mormon Emeline Blanche Woodward Well’s feminist arguments in favor of a woman's  individuality instead of being relegated to the status of a pet or a toy for men.  And nothing, of course, about contemporary LDS women writers and scholars, most of whom have been excommunicated for their insights and exposure of this patriarchal nonsense.  

I have never heard a more demeaning speech given by a woman concerning her own gender.  The young LDS women in the audience must be so disheartened, for according to this speech, they have no true role model.  None of these women were appreciated for any individual effort, their remembrance in Mormon history is a matter of happenstance, who they knew, married, or birthed. What a travesty!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Warren Jeffs v. Joseph Smith. Thank God for our Modern Legal System!


            Warren Jeffs was recently convicted under Texas law of sexual assault against two children, girls ages 15 and 12.  The age of consent is 17 in Texas where the perpetrator is three or more years older than the victim.  In Jeff’s case both victims were considered children under Texas law.[1]  Jeffs’ actions were not much different than those of Joseph Smith.
            By claiming that the act was ordained of God, in the nineteenth century Joseph Smith was able to induce several young women between the ages of 14 and 17 to have sexual relations with him.  Smith’s actions were subsequently condoned by the Mormon religious doctrine of polygamy. 
            Today, our judicial system protects young people who are too naive to understand the full implications of a sexual relationship with a much older person.  These victims are still children and are emotionally vulnerable. They need protection from predators who take advantage of this weakness.  Our justice system has (thankfully) evolved to criminalize these sexual crimes against the young and innocent.
            When Mormonism’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith was beguiling young women, there was no such system of justice.  Instead there were circuit riders, self-appointed judges who would listen to a case for a fee.  The criminal justice system had not yet evolved to the point of established local district attorneys or county prosecutors who would prosecute criminals on behalf of the state or the combined interests of the people.  In 1843, Smith was mayor of Nauvoo and the prophet of the LDS Church; he was subject to no criminal laws governing statutory rape or sexual assault.
            Had Smith committed his crimes today, the local authorities would have had plenty of evidence to investigate him for sexual assault against Sarah Ann Whitney, Fanny Alger, Flora Ann Woodworth, Helen Mar Kimball (whose own father, Heber C. Kimball, offered her up to his buddy as a sacrificial lamb), Nancy Winchester, Lucy Walker and Sara Lawrence.[2]  All these young women ranged in age from 14-17 at the time.
            The age of consent in all of the United States is age 15 or older.  In most states it ranges from 16-18.  Here is the current penal code for the State of Illinois, which is where Joseph Smith would be prosecuted if he were to be arrested today.
         
          Sec. 12-13. Criminal Sexual Assault
            (a) The accused commits criminal sexual assault if he or she…  (4) commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who was at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the accused was 17 years of age or over and held a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the victim. (b) Sentence.
        (1) Criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony. ..[Emphasis added]


            The difference between Jeffs and Smith is not one that pertains to the individual. The only important distinction between these two “prophets of God” is the era in which they lived and committed their crimes.  In the nineteenth century our legal system had not yet evolved to address sexual crimes against children.  But today things have changed thanks to Texas and the jury that applied its laws, convicting Jeffs as the predator he is.


[1] Texas Penal Code §22.011. SEXUAL ASSAULT.
[2] See Richard, S.  Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History, 2nd Ed.  (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989) and Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness:  the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997). http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reality Polygamists File in Federal Court

           Reality rock star polygamist, Kody Brown and his four wives recently filed a lawsuit in Utah’s federal court. The suit challenges Utah’s anti-bigamy penal statute and requests that the court declare it unconstitutional.  Their attorney, Jonathan Turly, Professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, is not seeking to legitimize polygamous marriages, but to avoid polygamy’s characterization as criminal conduct—smart move.  Some would say this is a distinction without a difference; I see it differently.

            The first hurdle the Browns will have to overcome is standing, the family has moved to Nevada and thus its members are no longer residents of Utah.  Under the rules of civil procedure one needs to have a recognizable interest in a case before courts will address a complaint.  Brown and his wives cannot challenge the constitutionality of Utah’s bigamy statute unless they can demonstrate that their family is in imminent danger of harm by that law.  Therefore, unless Utah prosecutors still intend to prosecute the Browns, the family could lack standing.

            Assuming the Browns overcome the standing issue, the disposition of this case could affect our constitutionally guaranteed right of privacy, a penumbral right (one that is not expressed verbatim but is found in the interstices of the U.S. Constitution—usually interpreted as being part of ‘liberty.’)  This right has been recognized since the early twentieth century and was the basis for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision allowing a woman’s right to abortion.

            Nevertheless, Utah law has one interesting fact: in addition to its statute criminalizing bigamy, the Utah Constitution adopted in 1896, states:

ARTICLE III, Section 1: [Religious Toleration – Polygamy Forbidden].

The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this State: First:--Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; but polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited.”
[Emphasis added]

            This provision was adopted, no doubt in part due to the continued prosecution of polygamy in the late nineteenth century and to give the nation assurances that Utah would not continue the practice.  Ordinarily, in order to amend the constitution, the Utah voting public would have to pass a proposition with a 2/3 majority allowing polygamy.  On the other hand, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) could tell Utah that its laws (both constitutional and statutory) are unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution and then Utah’s laws could be changed by judicial activism.

            In Reynolds v. United States, 1878, 98 U.S. 145,[i]  SCOTUS reviewed the conviction of a Utah Territory resident, George Reynolds, for violation of the federal law against bigamy.  Reynolds claimed the trial court erred because it failed to give his requested instruction that if the jury found Reynolds became a bigamist as a result of sincerely held religious beliefs, then he should be found not guilty.  The Utah trial court wisely refused such an instruction, and also added that the anti-bigamy law was enacted for the protection of innocent women and children. In upholding the trial court’s denial of Reynolds’ proposed instruction and confirming the bigamy law as constitutional and not violative of the right to religious expression,  SCOTUS acknowledged that in general, an individual’s beliefs are to be protected pursuant to the freedom of expression clause.   However, when those beliefs become actions which adversely affect a secularly recognizable interest of the state, regulation was permissible and did not violate constitutional standards.  Quoting Thomas Jefferson, the Court pointed out that in every educated western civilization, monogamy was recognized as the societal norm and that polygamous relationships are hurtful to women and children, “…it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.”[ii] 

The Utah Supreme Court has dealt with the polygamy issue in two relatively recent cases, State v. Green, 2004 UT 76 and State v. Holm, 2006 UT 31.  In both of these decisions the Utah Supreme Court upheld Utah’s bigamy statute as being non-violative of both federal and state constitutions under Reynolds and its progeny. 

            However, in Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003) a 6-3 decision which struck down a Texas sodomy law, SCOTUS emphatically held that the law violated the plaintiff’s right to privacy under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Should the Browns' case reach SCOTUS, the case could become a states’ rights fight to determine morality, something that only a minority of the justices in the Lawrence opinion felt the states should retain. 

            The composition of the justices serving on SCOTUS has changed since the Lawrence decision. However, with regard to constitutional leanings concerning the right of privacy, perhaps not much has changed.  Chief Justice Roberts has replaced Rehnquist for the conservative and both Justices Sotamayor and Kagan would likely follow the majority, if not retired Justice O’Connor’s concurrence.  There is even a possibility of a more liberal opinion, building upon the precedent set in Lawrence.  Although  Justices Scalia and Thomas, who dissented in the Lawrence opinion, are still with us and would probably be joined by Chief Justice Roberts, that still leaves at least 5 if not 6 justices likely to side with the Browns.

            If that were the case, Utah’s parochial laws regarding sexuality and even its constitutional ban of polygamy (no doubt a reactionary provision due to the intense prosecution of Utah Mormon polygamists in the early 1890s) would be jeopardized.  Interesting issue.  I’m hoping that the Browns don’t get kicked with a motion to dismiss by the Utah Attorney General for lack of standing.  Utah County prosecutors had commenced an investigation before the Browns moved to Nevada in January, but no charges were ever filed.  If the Browns’ complaint remains viable and SCOTUS grants certiorari, the high court could decide to protect the Browns’ expanded notion of an individual’s federal constitutional right to privacy, effectively overruling Utah's laws.




[ii] Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, adopted January 16, 1786 (Original preamble in draft version) 1 Jeff. Works, 45.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Testimony Glove—a Despicable New Brain Washing Technique?


Lets all wear a white glove, just like Michael Jackson did!

“Unfortunately large numbers of people all over the world have been specifically taught in childhood not to think, because thinking would lead to questioning the certainties of the elders, and this has not been allowed in most cultures.” --- Brock Chisholm

            Oh that propaganda never stops and it starts at age four! This is a feeble attempt to equate Joseph Smith, an acknowledged Lothario, with the Creator of the Universe and Jesus Christ, who if not the Son of God was certainly a stellar example of sacrifice and love of humanity.  And then, to add the hollow edifices of Mormonism and the current elderly leader, a man who, but for claiming his post in the ranks for decades proves that he is nothing more than a blind follower with stamina.  And for the little girls—nobody to emulate, no notice is taken. 

            Since obviously a book is not enough, how much more effective is the glove as a means of instilling rote verbiage in the minds of naturally inquisitive children in order to keep these young peoples’ minds focused on Mormonism’s party line and away from the natural questioning of a healthy youth.  This obvious brainwashing ply should be abhorrent to even the most devout of Mormons.

            This new Mormon tool enables the use of a longstanding principle of re-education: repetition.  By repeating the same language or mantra over and over until it is known by heart, ignoring the cognition which should accompany such a declaration of certitude, “I know that this is the one and only true church,” etc., one is more nearly able to ensure adherence to the true-believers’ cult-like fanaticism.  It has always been, in my opinion, especially mendacious to uses such a ply on the young. 

            When young minds are naturally inquisitive and curious, shutting them down and locking the door with meaningless absolutisms is a crime against nature, and should be one against the law of the land. The standard Mormon testimony uttered in drone-like manner by young children and usually accompanied by promptings and/or rewards from parents in order to ingrain the Religion’s credo can only be characterized as a despicable form of child abuse.

            As a proponent of real education for these children, I believe that in the public schools, in either 4th or 5th grade, children should be instructed in a survey of world religion and philosophy, including secular humanism.  Then, in junior high or middle school, an in-depth study of the many ways of viewing the world and one’s relationship to it, should be taught by qualified teachers of philosophy, epistemology and sociology.  This instruction is every bit as important as mathematics and science.  This instruction might just counter the one-sided fanaticism inculcated in Mormon households throughout Utah.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom to Speak your Mind: Stripping the Shackles of Censorship


“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”—George Washington (1732-1799) First President of the USA.

            Critics of the U.S. are everywhere.  But today July 4, 2011, I am not one of them. Today I am grateful for my constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech.  This 1st Amendment right was originally limited to the federal government, but then in 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court wisely held that the due process guarantees of the 14th  Amendment made the 1st Amendment applicable to state and even local governments.
            I never appreciated this right until I had to use it to speak the Truth.  Growing up in Utah, a Mormon theocratic state, I had never realized that the television programming, radio stations, newspapers and even what was in the school libraries and most of the book stores was censored according to LDS standards.  But now the Internet has made the test for local or community standards obsolete in most cases.  There are limited  exceptions: for example in Davis and other conservative Utah counties, covers are used in certain grocery stores that display magazines depicting (what would be considered tasteful and not at all pornographic in most educated areas) photographs of women in bikinis or with cleavage.  Thus, the local or community standard for censoring what a very conservative community might consider obscene is on its way to becoming moot; with the World Wide Web, comes a world wide-community.  And so finally, Utah is losing its hold on its long-standing ability to censor. 
            Of course the Mormon Church guarantees no such 1st Amendment rights to its adherents. The LDS Church is a gerontocracy, led by a cadre of 105 old men.  These men are self-appointed prophets, seers, apostles, seventies, ad nauseum.  These men claim to speak for God.  These men claim that any who do not follow them will suffer. These men are a most arrogant and deceitful group, for they do not listen to their followers—they order them. They deceive them.  And then, after having lived a life dedicated to their teachings, when their followers are so malleable and dependent on their leaders that they are ready to believe anything, they tell them the only way to heaven is through the LDS Temple gates, which pathway comes only at a heavy toll—ten percent of one’s income.  These men boldly admit that “everything may be sacrificed” to maintain the integrity of the essential facts which form the basis of LDS beliefs.[1]
            Where do these men get such power to censor, proscribe and lead?  They claim it is directly from the Lord.  However, history tells us that these men get their power from a claimed restoration of priesthood authority to Joseph Smith in the 1830s, when the evidence shows that such events never occurred! 
            Even Mormon academic apologist and professor at Columbia, author of Rough Stone Rolling, Richard L. Bushman, has admitted the fact that Smith mentioned nothing of John the Baptist or a reception of the holy priesthood until years after the events were supposed to have occurred.  Bushman writes that:  “The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.”[2]  In a court of law, this lack of a contemporaneous record of an event, that is the absence of evidence, can be used as evidence that the event never occurred.
            But because Mormons have been told not to read anything not endorsed or approved by their leaders, many will not even peek at another point of view. So my voice, along with the voices of the other authors, non-Mormons and former Mormons who have become disenchanted and discouraged with the true facts that have been discovered and yet continue to be covered-up by the LDS leadership, write about these things, until finally there will so much information proving that Mormonism is a fraud, that there will be no need for a trial. 
            The court of public opinion will have before it such a long list of damaging, undisputed facts, that a summary judgment will be granted by Mormons as well as non-Mormons and the result of such a verdict will be that the LDS Church will lose any reputation it had ever painstakingly built as an institution for the good of its members and mankind as a whole.  However, its reputation as a business capable of maximizing profit from the tithes received by its investors might well remain as a matter of history; for at that, it has shown incredible skill. 
            And so, I am thankful that I will not be shot or killed or tortured for what I say.  What I say may not be pleasant, or even popular, but neither have the messages of any of those who have tested their 1st Amendment rights.  None have been in conformity with the mainstream of public opinion. 
            Justice Louis Brandeis, in his opinion in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 375 (1927) said in part:  “…the freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think,” [is] “indispensable,” and that “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”  Like many of my colleagues who are engaged in the quest to expose the evils of Mormonism, I have risen out of decades of Mormon mind-controlled inertia to speak.  And having spoken, and seen that some, if not many will respond to the Truth, I will not be silenced.
            Thank you, my country of birth, the United States of America for my freedom to speak.


[1]My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior.  Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.” [Emphasis Added]  Statement by Dallin H. Oaks to the female author, Linda King Newell, who along with Valeen Tippetts Avery, wrote Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd Ed. , 1994 (Urbana: Univ. of Ill. Press/Doubleday) as noted in, Robert D.  Anderson, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith, 1999 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books) xiii, n. 28.
[2] Richard Lyman, Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 2007 (New York: Vintage Books) 75.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Propaganda


“Propaganda brought us into power. Propaganda enabled us to remain in power.  Propaganda will enable us to conquer the world.”
—Adolf Hitler

            Early yesterday I posted a blog critical of the “I am Mormon” advertisement blitz throughout New York City.  Last evening the LDS-owned Desert News posted a piece by Joe Walker addressing the same topic: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700147893/LDS-advertising-campaign-elicits-significant-increase-in-website-visitors.html   The article implies that an increase in website traffic to www.mormon.org means that the ad campaign has been received favorably by its target audience.  As usual, the Deseret News is acting as the propaganda arm of the LDS Church, spinning random, scattered facts and feeding misinformation to the locals.   
In recent years, the Mormon Utah paper’s outright attempts at censorship have been outrageous. In 2010, a piece in their ‘Church section,’ (no specific author was credited) advised LDS Church members to refrain from searching outside sources for their Sunday school lesson materials. “Use proper sources,” depicted a mother-daughter scene where mother is struggling to prepare a Church lesson, books strewn across her table.[1] Daughter asks her mother why she doesn’t just teach from the LDS Church manual.  "Why," she asks, "are you trying to boil down information?  An inspired Church-writing committee has already done that for you." Mom, apparently a little dense in this scenario, looks confused.  Daughter goes on to explain that all she needs to teach is in the approved manual which has been ‘correlated’ by the Brethren “…to ensure purity of doctrine, simplicity of materials, and control by the priesthood.”  Mother’s concern disappears from her brow.   She is relieved that the work has been done for her and she closes her books, shuts down her internet browser and returns from her brief, thinking escape, to the land of the unquestioning.[2]
            This newspaper has been the media organ for the mainstream Mormon Church in the State of Utah for more than a century and a half.  In the early Twentieth Century, one-time U.S. senator Frank Jenne Cannon, son of late 19th century LDS leader George Q., acknowledged its perverse power when he wrote that [the Deseret Evening News is] “…one of the most dishonest, unjust and mendacious organs that ever poisoned the public mind.”[3]  Additionally, the authors of The Mormon Corporate Empire noted:  “The Deseret News is not held in high esteem by its counterparts.”  During the investigation for their book, they “…encountered some very unflattering descriptions of it by other newspaper publishers in Utah and surrounding states.” [4] 
Almost a century ago, the father of public relations, Edward Bernays, put it aptly when he wrote:  “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.”[5] Mormonism, from its very inception, is a good example of propaganda in practice.  As economist Frank Knight acknowledged, a theocracy is more effective than a purely secular autocracy because in the former style of government, “the victims may not feel coerced at all.” [6]  Propaganda is alive and well in Utah. 


[1] “Use Proper Sources,” Deseret News, January 9, 2010 http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58411/Use-proper-sources.html
[2] Ibid. 
[3] Cannon, Frank Jenne & O’Higgins, Harvey J.  (1911) Under the Prophet in Utah, the National Menace of a Political Priestcraft.  (Reprint, Lexington: Forgotten Books, 2008) 201.
[4] John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, The Mormon Corporate Empire  (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985) 264, n. 33.
[5] Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (New York: Horace Liveright Publishing House, 1928) 71. 
[6] Frank H. Knight, “Professor Heimann on Religion and Economics,” Journal of Political Economy 56 (December 1948) 485.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"...I am Mormon."

          Oh those “I am Mormon” ads, have you seen the latest?  Created to bolster Mormonism’s image after the Church was criticized for its openly anti-gay marriage stance, these corny plugs originally aired in nineteen television markets outside the Mormon Corridor.  Then, within days of the Tony Awards, LDS PR determined how best to spin the “The Book of Mormon's” success and parked "I am Mormon" advertisements near the Musical’s debut venue, the Eugene O'Neill Theater.
          Big bucks have been spent in Times Square: electronic billboards, taxi tops and NY subways—telling the world that Mormonism produces normal, happy people.  Trouble is Mormon leaders, if you have to advertise your religion, we know you are losing customers. 
          I think LDS leaders are wasting their members’ hard-earned tithing on this transparent marketing effort.  Arguably, the net effect is hurting, not helping the country's opinion of Mormons and their religion. What do you think?