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In 1855, George Osmond married Mary Georgina Huckvale in St. Louis, Missouri, and they eventually settled in Idaho where they were the parents of ten children. In 1881, George Osmond married his second wife, Christena Amelia Jacobsen, and they eventually settled in Wyoming where they were the parents of seven children.
George Osmond Jr. served two two-year LDS missions in England–from 1834 to 1886 and 1890 to 1892. He was a successful farmer, rancher and businessman, a probate judge in Idaho, a state Senator in Wyoming, and a beloved LDS Stake President of Star Valley, Wyoming from 1892 until his death in 1913.
Today, a friend, Dale Tingey, shared this note with me this morning, it made me think about my Great Grandfather and others who have lived their lives well.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is truly how my Great Grandfather was known and loved by all. I share the following to give all hope that there is life after death, and we are being watched over by guardian angels, who are most likely our relatives that have passed on. We each came here as Spirit children with spirit bodies that entered a body of flesh and bones at birth. Because of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, all mankind will live again and the spirit and mortal bodies will be brought together to never again be parted.
“To escort President George Osmond into the spirit world may have been the reason for the return of George’s friend, John D. Wilkes, of Afton, Wyoming, as was seen by his wife, Lucella Child Wilkes. During the years following his death in 1905, Brother Wilkes, or “Johnny” as he was better known, returned to earth on several occasions, according to the account of his niece, Vern R. Morgan:
When the Star Valley Stake in Wyoming was organized in August 18992, Elder George Osmond was chosen as the first Stake President.
Aunt Luella and Uncle Johnny worked together on the Sunday School Stake Board and became very close and friendly with President Osmond. After her husband’s untimely death he often counseled and helped her with many problems. His spiritual and kindly advice gave her much consolation…
About 1907-1908, President Osmond became critically ill and for days it was feared he would die. He finally recovered and afterward he told my aunt that on a certain night Johnny had appeared at his bedside. President Osmond asked Johnny, ‘Am I to go with you?’ Johnny told him that they were ‘not ready for him yet– he was to finish his work here, and he would live to see it finished.’ He was dressed in white and his voice was as natural as ever, President Osmond said. The singular thing about this experience was as natural as ever, President Osmond said. The singular thing about this experience was that on that very same night Johnny had also appeared to my aunt in a dream and told her that ‘everything will be alright, do not worry.’
Aunt Luella also commented on Johnny’s voice. He had always had a beautiful resonant voice and that when he spoke to her this same night he appeared to President Osmond, he sounded so natural.It gave her great peace of mind as she had had many business worries and the visit of her husband gave her confidence that all things would work out alright.
At the age of 77 President Osmond died on the 25th of March, 1913. The night he died, Johnny again appeared to my aunt in a dream. He was walking down the street on which President Osmond lived. She saw him turn in at the gate at his house and go into his home. The next morning she was notified of President Osmond’s death.
I testify that as we live, we will die. And because of Jesus Christ, as we die, we will live again!
May we each live our lives with faith, hope, confidence and purpose; always striving to be the person we were sent to this world to become knowing we will remain here until our work is finished!
We are not alone. Every action and even our thoughts are being recorded for a wise purpose. We were not to remember the spirit world from whence we came while here on earth as we came here to be tested. If that knowledge were remembered, it would nullify the test. Yes, one day, all memory of our pre-existence before and existence now will be unlocked as we will face our maker and ‘return and report’ our mission and our time here on earth; to be judged and assigned a certain glory for our good works or not.
We are never too old or unworthy to change for the better. Yes, it takes work but it is worth it and the blessings ‘are out of this world’!!! Again,
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Happiness happens, and will follow our rewards in heaven and they will be worthy of our time spent away from our Heavenly Parents while here on earth.
“And he said unto him,
Son, thou art ever with me,
and all that I have is thine.” Luke 15:31
The doorbell rings, and two young children burst through the front door.
They race through the cozy home, fighting to be the first to give Grandpa a hug.
Grandpa Alan Osmond sits at the kitchen table smiling as he describes how the scene was a perfect example of the life he lives and loves.
“I used to be an old rock and roller. I’m just an old grandpa now,” Osmond said. “I’m having the time of my life.”
Osmond continues to write songs, battle multiple sclerosis, build relationships with his family, share his strong beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do genealogy and participate in charities.
“I just like to stay busy and involved,” he said.
MS has been a part of Osmond’s life for 27 years, and he still continues to amaze and motivate others around him with his unending supply of charisma.
One of those inspired by Osmond is his friend Rod Meldrum, the president of an organization called The FIRM Foundation that researches the geography of The Book of Mormon.
Osmond has spent time touring sights in North America with Meldrum, and Meldrum spoke about how amazed he was to see Osmond leave his electric cart behind and hike the grassy mounds with the rest of the tour group.
“MS is debilitating. I’ve never heard him complain about it. He’ll joke about it sometimes, but he doesn’t complain about it,” Meldrum said.
Osmond said, “I just determined when I got it, ‘Hey I may have MS, but MS does not have me.’”
Suzanne Osmond, his wife, also sees the great control her husband has had over the condition he has faced for almost three decades.
“He doesn’t ever use it as an excuse,” Suzanne Osmond said.
Before Alan Osmond started his fight against MS, he met his future wife at a BYU basketball game. She was a cheerleader and noticed him in the crowd of fans, and they started eyeing each other throughout the game.
They went on their first date soon after, but their love for each other grew the most after they spent a little time apart.
“I think what did it is that he went away for a month,” Suzanne Osmond said. “During that month away I think we realized, ‘Hey we kinda do like each other.’”
Meldrum’s wife and the Osmonds’ friend, Tonya Meldrum, admires the great respect that Alan and Suzanne Osmond show for each other now, and how they do not expect their notoriety to entitle them to be treated better or differently from other people.
“He and his wife both. They just act like anybody else,” Tonya Meldrum said.
His struggle with MS was not the only trial Alan Osmond faced as a famous singer of the LDS faith.
“We were told we would never make it in show business because we were too goody-goody and clean,” he said.
Grinning as he remembered the experience, Alan Osmond went on to relate a time when the Osmond Brothers were invited to an exclusive party by Elton John. They were then uninvited 10 minutes later by his manager because the guests at the party would not feel comfortable around the Osmonds at the party.
When most individuals would have been upset or offended, Alan Osmond said his family looked at the action as a respectful gesture made by John regarding their religious beliefs.
Alan Osmond said, “You just live your life. You just make decisions and stick by them.”
Reviewing his life and the experiences he has had and how it affects him now, Alan Osmond opened up about his sincere love for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
“The time is now when every member must be a missionary and open their mouth,” he said. “People are looking.”
He detailed how he continues to reach out to others based on the belief that it is best to be “noisy” about his faith and what it means for others.
Spelling noisy as “noiz,” or zion backwards, Alan Osmond explains that as the members of the LDS Church become more outspoken about their beliefs in Jesus Christ, the world will become a more united and peaceful place.
Looking to the future, the Osmonds want to continue to live a life centered on what they value most.
“Show business is not first in our lives. It’s family,” Alan Osmond said.
Radio and television host Glenn Beck is now going public with his belief the United States is among the famous “Lost 10 Tribes of Israel,” and America today is suffering calamaties just as ancient Israel did due to its disobedience to the laws of God.
Echoing the conclusions of some experts who have delved deeply into what’s known as the theory of “Anglo-Israelism” or “British-Israelism,”Beck took viewers of his TV show into a biblical history lesson dating back to the time after King David of the Old Testament, when the once united Kingdom of Israel became divided.
“Israel was split into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom,” Beck explained.
Many people don’t realize that ancient Israel (the Northern Kingdom) actually went to war against the Jews (the Southern Kingdom of Judah) over many years. Four Books of the Bible, 1 and 2 Kings as well as 1 and 2 Chronicles, document the separate national histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
Beck explained that eventually, God warned the rebellious northern kingdom to stop its sinning, or else face disaster.
(Watch Glenn Beck discuss U.S. connections with ancient Israel beginning at the 5:40 mark of this video:)
“They’re warned, ‘You’re going to be taken by the Assyrians, and you’re gonna be taken into captivity,’” said Beck.
“Well, that’s exactly what happened. Judah remained, but the tribes in the north, they were taken and they went throughout the Assyrian empire. The Kingdom of Judah was not scattered. This is where the term ‘Jew’ comes from – Judah.”
Beck went on to note that when the Assyrians were finally defeated by other powers, they and the Israelite captives fled northward.
“And they fled out of captivity through the Caucuses Mountains,” he said. “The Caucusus Mountains are where you hear the word ‘Caucasian.’”
“What’s interesting is the Assyrians, who were very good, meticulous record-keepers, and who were just brutal [people], they settled in Italy and in the Germany area and the Russia area where facsism comes from. But the Israelites, the Lost 10 Tribes, they went north and they started to scatter [in another] direction, and they went to the coastlines, generally in the area where the Pilgrims came from. …
“All of Western Civilization is based on the laws of Israel. And our entire history is directly tied to this moment. Our Pilgrims thought they were completing the journey out of captivity.”
Beck believes the Statue of Liberty holding tablets is a more modern representation of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, and he focused attention on the symbols on the both the presidential seal and the Great Seal of the United States.
Seal of the president of the United States
On the presidential seal, he connected the artwork of sun rays, the moon and stars to one of the sons of Israel who had a famous dream in the Book of Genesis.
“When Joseph from the Bible is with his brothers, he tells his brothers that he had a dream. And he said, ‘I had a dream where the sun, the moon and the stars all bowed down to me,’” Beck explained.
He then noted the prominent theme of the number 13 on the seal.
“There’s strong symbolism with the number 13 being represented everywhere: 13 arrows, 13 stripes, 13 stars, 13 olives,” he said.
But is that figure merely a reflection of the 13 original American colonies?
“That’s what everyone will tell you, and that is one answer. But there is another one that many people believe,” Beck said.
“What else is 13? Twelve disciples surrounding Jesus, but more importantly, I think, the 12 tribes of Israel.”
As far as why 12 tribes of Israel would be represented by the number 13 and not 12, Beck stated, “The tribe of Joseph split into Manassah and Ephraim, and those were in northern Israel. That’s the northern kingdom of Israel. That’s the thirteen tribes.”
As he examined the Great Seal of the U.S., Beck noted that above the eagle representing America, there are “13 stars in the shape of the Star of David.”
Great Seal of the United States
Surrounding the grouping of stars, he pointed out the artwork of clouds and light from “fire.”
“When Moses led his people out of Egypt, what did they follow during the day? A cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. That’s what this means,” he said.
He even unearthed the original proposed seal for the nation, which was promoted by Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
Featuring the motto “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God,” the scene depicts the nation of Israel during its Exodus out of Egyptian slavery.
Originally proposed seal of the United States
“Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea by a pillar of fire. Hello?” voiced Beck. “Look at the clouds around the fire in the center in exactly the same position as the eagle [seal].”
Beck noted it didn’t bother him if people didn’t believe the history lesson.
“I didn’t care a few years ago, but after 9/11, I promised I would find out what was going on,” he said.
“So what is it? We are nation that is based on Judeo-Christian values and the Bible. Period. You might not buy into the olives and the branches and everything else. It’s fact! But there’s no way to deny that the majority of our laws come directly from the Scriptures, right directly from Deuteronomy.”
Historian Steven M. Collins of Sioux Falls, S.D., has written several books on the subject, including “The ‘Lost’ Ten Tribes of Israel … Found” and “Israel’s Tribes Today.”
“It is such heartening news to me that Glenn Beck has seen this fundamental truth about which so many Christians are unaware,” Collins said after viewing Beck’s program.
“If the modern nations of the ten tribes of Israel came to widely recognize their true heritage as the biblical ‘house of Israel,’ it would revolutionize the self-perceptions of not only individuals but of nations as well. It would also verify the Holy Bible powerfully as the prophecies about the Israelites’ future after their exile from the Promised Land in the 8th century B.C. would be seen to be completely accurate and fulfilled. This would prove that the Bible is the Word of a Creator God as only an immortal Creator God could control the destinies of nations to make sure that biblical prophecies made millennia ago are being precisely fulfilled today.”
Collins says there is “overwhelming evidence” proving the modern nations of the 10 tribes of Israel are the Anglo-American, Scandinavian and many mainland European nations.
“It is gratifying to see that a well-known American media personality now has many of these important truths as well. Perhaps we are reaching the time when it is God’s will for this truth to become widely known in the modern nations. Such an awareness would revolutionize global geopolitics, to say the least.”
There are many who disagree with the theory.
Among them is Dr. Claude Mariottini, a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Ill.
Mariottini states, “The fact is that British-Israelism is based on a biased interpretation of the text, eisegesis, wishful thinking, and a lack of reliable historical evidence. The view that Great Britain and the United States of America are the lost tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh is just a myth.”
MORE EVIDENCE THAT DECENDANTS OF THE LOST TRIBES CAME TO AMERICA!
ResearcherRod Meldrum has documented with DNA and artifacts that shows these people of the Ten Tribes dwelt in The Heartland of North America. Current evidence will prove that the previous DNA testing and dating based upon the Darwin Theory is wrong and that if dated correctly according to the Bible, the evidence lines up perfectly with the DNA and civilizations found in The Heartland of America. Writings and timelines in The Book of Mormonare in sync with God’s Creation of this world as recorded in Genesis in the Bible.
“Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.” 1 Nephi 17:14
Those seeking scientific information on the subject of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the origins of Native Americans and wanting to read both sides of the issue would do well to read tapirrider’s second link. There is a clear division between the X haplogroups found in Native Americans and that found in the Middle East around the Holy Land. Specifically, the Native American X hg is classified as “X2a,” and that found around is Israel is “X2b” (there are others of course). The separation can be reliably estimated as having occurred on the order of 15-20,000 years ago, which is well outside the Book of Mormon “timeframe” (indeed, it’s before there were any “Hebrews” at all).
“It is notable that X2 includes the two complete Native American X sequences that constitute the distinctive X2a clade, a clade that lacks close relatives in the entire Old World, including Siberia. The position of X2a in the phylogenetic tree suggests an early split from the other X2 clades, likely at the very beginning of their expansion and spread from the Near East.”
Dr, Bolnick and her colleagues, in noting that there is no scientific or archaeological evidence for pre-Columbian migrations from the Middle East note also that had there been such voyages, it is unreasonable that other “representatives” of mtDNA haplogroups wouldn’t have been present. The same holds for y-Chromosome sequences (inherited through the male line). None have been found anywhere in the New World, Mr. Meldrum’s claims not withstanding. Finally, there’s no evidence for ancient ocean voyages either, which would require a history of maritime activity and sophisticated navigational aids including the compass, which were not available until around 1000 A.D. and were introduced from China.
TheFamily Response by Rodney Meldrum:
“It all comes down the DNA dating issues that I discuss in detail in my (Rod L. Meldrum) book, Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant Through DNA. Haplogroup X is, obviously, the base or original haplotype with X2 being a sub-group or “clade” and X2a being a sub-sub group. X2a (in Native American populations of North America) is absolutely related to X2b (found in Israelite populations worldwide), the only question is when did the mutations differentiating them arise, which relies on the assumptions of mtDNA mutation rate dating.
The phylogenetic dating method which has been used in the estimated 12-15k year ago arrival figure, is purely theoretical in that it assumes a common ancestor for both humans and chimps at 5-6 million years ago and deduces the rate of change (or mutation rate) from the differences between humans and chimps over that time, speculated to be one mutation per every 6,764 years on average (Genetics 172:373-387, Jan 2006).
The Pedigree dating method, which is based on empirical comparison of thousands of living grandmother/granddaughter lineages to establish the actual observed rate of change demonstrates that the mutation rate for mtDNA is 20-26 times higher than the theoretically derived phylogenetic rate implies (American Journal of Human Genetics 66:1599, 2000).
Application of the observed mutation rate to the mtDNA facts results in an aproximate arrival date of haplogroup X somewhere around 2,000-2,500 years ago rather than the theoretical 12-15k date. Thus, the unobservable theoretical dating is the only thing standing in the way of haplogroup X being Book of Mormon related. Once the dating is corrected to known, actual and observed mutation rates, it falls directly into Book of Mormon time frames. Download the entire e-book athttp://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/downloads.php for further detailed, referenced information.”
Scientists date the Native American A, B, C and D lineages to about the same age as the X2a lineage, roughly 16,000 years old. According to the mutation rate you accept, how old are the A, B, C and D lineages and when and how do you think they arrived in the Americas?
TheFamily Rodney Meldrum Responds:
“The vagueness of your question makes it difficult to answer. Are you talking about the arrival date of the primary haplogroups A, B, C and D or their clades (sub-groups) or their sub-sub groups. Are you talking about when those groups or sub-groups or sub-sub groups arose, or when they were introduced into the America’s? Do you know the difference? Are you aware that you are trying to compare apples to oranges?… A sub-sub group (X2a) with primary haplogroups (A, B, C, D)? Which subgroups or sub-sub groups of A, B, C and D are you referring to as each would potentially have their own date of origin because they split from the larger groups? Do you even realize that no one has successfully extracted and performed DNA analysis on ANY bone samples carbon dating beyond about 500 B.C. in America? The earliest bones dated before Deborah Bolnicks work were in the 700 AD range. Her work pushed sequenced bones back to roughly 2,200 years ago. So far as I know no bones dating back further than that have been actually sequenced. Beyond there it enters the realm of theory, not reality.
Geneticists have been all over board with the theoretical dating (ranging from 60,000 to 8,000 ago), how many migrations are thought to be responsible, how many people were involved in each of these migrations and from where those migrations originated. Their theories have ranged from one single migration across the Bering Strait to three migrations to 8 migrations and others in between. Some have shown a European contact while others reject it (Solutrean theory). So which one, if any, is right?
The mutation rate controversy has been a quandary for several years, but the hardline “man-from-chimps” theory dating proponents have imposed their opinion-based theories upon the genetics field. I and many other experts prefer science that is observation based, rather than theory based, hence my tendency toward the observable pedigree dating findings over the purely theory based extrapolations. Wouldn’t you agree that actual observation should trump fanciful theories based on little more than speculations?
So to attempt to answer your question, I don’t know when, or how many migrations were involved in the peopling of ancient America, but I also know that at this time neither do the geneticists who are trying to unravel the mystery. Shouldn’t the Book of Mormon, assuming it is in fact a literal history, trump genetic speculations as pertaining to at least three migrations into the New World from the Old World? Do you realize that by accepting these genetic speculations you are either knowingly or ignorantly rejecting the historical information from the Book of Mormon, which provides solid, documented evidence for at least two migrations from the middle east? Where are you finding main stream genetics that support this fact? They don’t accept it, but they nonetheless have discovered haplogroup X dating back to Book of Mormon time frames and have no answer as to how it got here.
If you don’t think that there is any agenda to undermine, hide or distort findings to avoid providing supporting evidence for the Book of Mormon, you haven’t watched the DVD documentary, The Lost Civilizations of North America or read the newly released accompanying book, Lost: American Antiquities by S. Edgar Smoot. Many scientists know about the claims of the Book of Mormon and some are determined not to allow any evidence that would support its claims to be released to the public. Fortunately, there are some scientists that are still interested in finding the truth, but they are routinely squelched by organizations and leaders who control the information outlets and have agendas. If you don’t believe that scientists can fall prey to an agenda designed to push certain political and social goals, you are deceived…just look at so-called “man-made global warming.” Like the field of genetics, scientists are all over the board on that one too.”
“The Book of Mormon is filled with the history of a family that left Jerusalem (about 600 B.C.) before it was destroyed. It records their travels through the wilderness, across the great waters to this land, a‘promised land’, (In the ‘Heartland’ of North America where DNA and evidence is found) and about their battles over good and evil even unto war. It tells us that they are ‘the remnant of Jacob that shall come to the knowledge of the Lord their God and shall inherit the Americas and build a New Jerusalem. Finally, “The kings (of many nations) shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” (3 Nephi 20:45) (Other nations will realize that the Native Americans of North America were truly descendants from The Holy Land with DNA to prove it.) Jesus is the prophet like unto Moses, and the Nephites are children of the prophets. Others of the Lord’s people shall be gathered to Jerusalem as God commanded with all covenants being fulfilled.” Read: 3 Nephi 20:10-46
“But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise— behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.” 2 Nephi 1:10
“For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Doctrine and Covenants 84:45
“. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!“
“The Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, had appeared to Joseph Smith. The morning of the dispensation of the fulness of times had come, dispelling the darkness of the long generations of spiritual night. As in the creation, light was to replace darkness; day was to follow night.
“From then to now, truth has been and is available to us. Like the children of Israel in former times, endless days of wandering now can end with our entry to a personal promised land.”
Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where individuals make sacred covenants with God. Because making covenants with God is such a solemn responsibility, individuals cannot enter the temple to receive their endowments or be sealed in marriage for eternity until they have fully prepared themselves and been members of the Church for at least a year. Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. The Church is working to build temples all over the world to make temple blessings more available for a greater number of Heavenly Father’s children.
“And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; for I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.” Doctrine & Covenants 124:40-41
New York Times best selling author Stephen Mansfield
There are nearly seven million Mormons in America . This is the number the Mormons themselves use. It’s not huge. Seven million is barely 2 percent of the country’s population. It is the number of people who subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. London boasts seven million people. So does San Francisco . It’s a million more people than live in the state of Washington ; a million less than in the state of Virginia . It’s so few, it’s the same number as were watching the January 24, 2012, Republican debate.
In fact, worldwide, there are only about fourteen million Mormons. That’s fourteen million among a global population just reaching seven billion. Fourteen million is the population of Cairo or Mali or Guatemala . It’s approximately the number of people who tune in for the latest hit show on network television every week. Fourteen million Americans ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant in 2011. That’s how few fourteen million is.
Yet in the first decade or so of the new millennium, some members of the American media discovered the Mormons and began covering them as though the Latter-day Saints had just landed from Mars. It was as though Utah was about to invade the rest of the country. It was all because of politics and pop culture, of course. Mitt Romney and John Huntsman were in pursuit of the White House. Glenn Beck was among the nation’s most controversial news commentators. Stephenie Meyer had written the astonishingly popular Twilight series about vampires. Matt Stone and Trey Parker had created the edgy South Park cartoon series–which included a much- discussed episode about Mormons–and then went on to create the blatantly blasphemous and Saint-bashing Broadway play The Book of Mormon. It has become one of the most successful productions in American theater history.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen Mormons sat in the US Congress, among them Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader. Mormons led JetBlue, American Express, Marriott, Novell, Deloitte and Touche, Diebold, and Eastman Kodak. Management guru Stephen Covey made millions telling them how to lead even better. There were Mormons commanding battalions of US troops and Mormons running major US universities. There were so many famous Mormons, in fact, that huge websites were launched just to keep up with it all. Notables ranged from movie stars like Katherine Heigl to professional athletes to country music stars like Gary Allan to reality television contestants and even to serial killers like Glenn Helzer, whose attorney argued that the Saints made him the monster he was. The media graciously reminded the public that Mormon criminals were nothing new, though: Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame was also a Mormon, they reported.
Most media coverage treated this “Mormon Moment” as though it was just that: the surprising and unrelated appearance of dozens of Mormons on the national stage–for a moment. More than a few commentators predicted it would all pass quickly.
What most commentators did not understand was that their “Mormon Moment” was more than a moment, more than an accident, and more than a matter of pop culture and fame alone. The reality was–and is–that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintshas reached critical mass. It is not simply that a startling number of Mormons have found their way onto America’s flat-screen TVs and so brought visibility to their religion. It is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints has reached sufficient numbers–and has so permeated every level of American society on the strength of its religious value–that prominent politicians, authors, athletes, actors, newscasters, and even murderers are the natural result, in some cases even the intended result. Visible, influential Mormons aren’t outliers or exceptions. They are fruit of the organic growth of their religion.
In 1950, there were just over a million Mormons in the world. Most of these were located in the Intermountain West of the United States, a region of almost lunar landscape between the Rocky Mountains to the East and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains to the West. The religion was still thought of as odd by most Americans. There had been famous Mormons like the occasional US Senator or war hero, but these were few and far between. There had even been a 1940 Hollywood movie entitled Brigham Young that told the story of the Saints’ mid-1800s trek from Illinois to the region of the Great Salt Lake. Its producers worked hard to strain out nearly every possible religious theme, a nod to the increasingly secular American public. Though it starred heavyweights like Vincent Price and Tyrone Power, the movie failed miserably, even in Utah. Especially in Utah.
Then, in 1951, a man named David O. McKay became the “First President” of the Latter-day Saints and inaugurated a new era. He was the Colonel Harlan Sanders of Mormonism. He often wore white suits, had an infectious laugh, and under- stood the need to appeal to the world outside the Church. It was refreshing. Most LDS presidents had either been polygamist oddballs or stodgy old men in the eyes of the American public. McKay was more savvy, more media aware. He became so popular that film legend Cecil B. DeMille asked him to consult on the now classic movie The Ten Commandments.
Empowered by his personal popularity and by his sense that an opportune moment had come, McKay began refashioning the Church’s image. He also began sharpening its focus. His famous challenge to his followers was, “Every Member a Missionary!” And the faithful got busy. It only helped that Ezra Taft Benson, a future Church president, was serving as the nation’s secretary of agriculture under President Eisehower. This brought respectability. It also helped that George Romney was the revered CEO of American Motors Corporation and that he would go on to be the governor of Michigan, a candidate for president of the United States, and finally a member of Richard Nixon’s cabinet. This hinted at increasing power. The 1950s were good for Mormons.
Then came the 1960s. Like most religions, the LDS took a beating from the counterculture movement, but by the 1970s they were again on the rise. There was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a symbol of Americana when Americana was under siege. There was Mormon Donny Osmond’s smile and Mormon Marie Osmond’s everything and the three-year run of network television’s Donny and Marie in the late 1970s that made words like family, clean, talented, patriotic, and even cute outshine some of the less-endearing labels laid upon the Saints through the years. New labels joined new symbols. A massive, otherworldly, 160,000-square-foot Temple just north of Washington, DC, was dedicated in the 1970s, a symbol of LDS power and permanence for the nation to behold. Always there was the “Every Member a Missionary!” vision beating in each Saintly heart.
By 1984, the dynamics of LDS growth were so fine-tuned that influential sociologist Rodney Stark made the mind- blowing prediction that the Latter-day Saints would have no fewer than 64 million members and perhaps as many as 267 million by 2080.3 It must have seemed possible in those days. In the following ten years, LDS membership exploded from 4.4 million to 11 million. This may be why in 1998 the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The Mormons–a misguided cult in the view of most traditional Christians, most Baptists in particular–had to be stopped.
They weren’t. Four years after the Baptists besieged Temple Square, the Winter Olympic Games came to Salt Lake City. This was in 2002 and it is hard to exaggerate what this meant to the Latter-day Saints. A gifted Mormon leader, Mitt Romney, rescued the games after a disastrous bidding scandal. A sparkling Mormon city hosted the games. Happy, handsome all-American Mormons attended each event, waving constantly to the cameras and appearing to be–in the word repeatedly used by the press at the time–“normal.”
The LDS Church capitalized on it all. It sent volunteers, missionaries, and publicists scurrying to every venue. It hosted grand events for the world press. It made sure that every visitor received a brochure offering an LDS guided tour of the city. Visitors from around the world read these words: “No other place in America has a story to tell like that of Salt Lake City–a sanctuary founded by religious refugees from within the United States’ own borders. And none can tell that story better than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Largely unchallenged, the Mormon narrative prevailed.
What followed was the decade of the new millennium we have already surveyed. Mormons seemed to be everywhere, seemed to be exceptional in nearly every arena, seemed to have moved beyond acceptance by American culture to domination of American culture. At least this was what some feared at the time.
But Mormons did not dominate the country. Far from it. Remember that they were not even 2 percent of the nation’s population as of 2012. True, they were visible and successful, well educated and well spoken, patriotic and ever willing to serve. Yet what they had achieved was not domination. It was not a conspiracy either, as some alleged. It was not anything approaching a takeover or even the hope for a takeover.
Few observers seemed to be able to explain how this new level of LDS prominence in American society came about. They reached for the usual answers trotted out to account for such occurrences: birth rates, Ronald Reagan’s deification of traditional values, the economic boom of the late twentieth century, a more liberal and broadminded society, even the dumbing down of America through television and failing schools. Each of these explanations was found wanting.
The Mormon Machine
The truth lay within Mormonism itself. What the Saints had achieved in the United States was what Mormonism, unfettered and well led, will nearly always produce. This was the real story behind the much-touted “Mormon Moment.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had risen to unexpected heights in American society because the Mormon religion creates what can benevolently be called a Mormon Machine– a system of individual empowerment, family investment, local church (ward and stake level) leadership, priesthood government, prophetic enduement, Temple sacraments, and sacrificial financial endowment of the holy Mormon cause.
Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies–a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.
These hallmark values and behaviors–the habits that distinguish Mormons in the minds of millions of Americans– grow naturally from Mormon doctrine. They are also the values and behaviors of successful people. Observers who think of the religion as a cult–in the Jim Jones sense that a single, dynamic leader controls a larger body of devotees through fear, lies, and manipulation–usually fail to see this. Mormon doctrine is inviting, the community it produces enveloping and elevating, the lifestyle it encourages empowering in nearly every sense. Success, visibility, prosperity, and influence follow. This is the engine of the Mormon ascent. It is what has attracted so many millions, and it is the mechanism of the Latter-day Saints’ impact upon American society and the world.
Mormons make achievement through organizational management a religious virtue. It leads to prosperity, visibility, and power. It should come as no surprise, then, that an American can turn on the evening news after a day of work and find one report about two Mormon presidential candidates, another story about a Mormon finalist on American Idol, an examination of the controversial views of a leading Mormon news commentator, a sports story about what a Mormon lineman does with his “Temple garments” in the NFL, and a celebration of how Mormons respond to crises like Katrina and the BP oil spill, all by a “Where Are They Now?” segment about Gladys Knight, minus the Pips, who has become–of course–a Mormon.
Mormons rise in this life because it is what their religion calls for. Achieving. Progressing. Learning. Forward, upward motion. This is the lifeblood of earthly Mormonism. Management, leadership, and organizing are the essential skills of the faith. It is no wonder that Mormons have grown so rapidly and reached such stellar heights in American culture. And there is much more to come.
President Thomas S. Monson Prophet, Seer, and Revelator The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
New Church Website on Same-Sex Attraction
Offers Love, Understanding and Hope
SALT LAKE CITY —
In an effort to encourage understanding and civil conversation about same-sex attraction, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched the website “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction” (www.mormonsandgays.org). It features a number of videos from people who share real experiences from their own perspectives on a sensitive and sometimes emotionally charged topic.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says the website is important because it seeks to further understanding.
Elder Oaks said that because we don’t understand everything about this subject it is wise to stick to the revealed word of God as found in the scriptures. “What we do know is that the doctrine of the Church—that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married—has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same-gender attraction,” he said.
Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stresses that Latter-day Saints, who devote their lives to following Jesus Christ’s teachings, should be an example to the world of expressing love and hope for those with same-gender attraction.
“As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate,” Elder Cook said. “Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
The website is a collection of conversations with Church leaders, Church members who are attracted to people of the same sex, and family members and friends of those who experience same-sex attraction. The website’s various sections discuss important topics such as our common ground as human beings, our family relationships, our identity and potential as children of God, how members of society treat each other, and what it means to be disciples of Christ. While the website does not endeavor to address every issue that could be addressed in relation to same-sex attraction, these candid and sincere expressions show the many human facets of a sensitive matter. Compassion comes from understanding.
One of the participants in the website explains why it’s important to address this topic:
“This is a dialogue that I feel very passionately about and one that I think we’re not used to having in the Church. It’s a dialogue that needs to come from a place of understanding and empathy rather than fear and misunderstanding.”
“I hope we will give ourselves the time and have the patience to listen and understand and not insist on everything being resolved within a certain framework of time,” Church apostle Elder D. Todd Christofferson said.
Regarding the timing of the announcement, Church spokesman Michael Purdy said, “Too often these types of big, important issues are dealt with in sound bites and often by individuals who do not have the complete picture of what the Church is doing. This website was produced over two years and puts the entire issue in context.
“The attention the Church received during the presidential election period highlighted areas of Church belief and practice that are poorly understood by the general public. We think additional context will help people better understand the Church’s position on a number of issues. Over the next few weeks we expect to be publishing more resource materials that will help address other topics.”