A Study Of Mormonism -- By: George R. Lunn
BSac 59:235 (July 1902) p. 434
A Study Of Mormonism
2. Social And Political Character
The Mormon religion is essentially social; so that no adequate conception of Mormonism is possible without a consideration of its results, as manifested in the social, political, and industrial activities. Such an investigation is very much handicapped by the absence of reliable data. The Mormon representations are extravagant, and the Gentile accounts are never free from prejudice; making a scientific study of conditions very difficult.
A Consideration of the General Social Life among the Mormons.
Nearly every ward has its pleasure house, often in the same building as the meeting-place, and considered equally necessary. It is here that the common people find their greatest enjoyment in the social dance, which, strange to relate, is opened and closed with prayer. Perfect decorum is supposed to be observed, and a high moral tone preserved. But in a letter from a friend, who is not given to exaggeration, he says: “You can judge of the social conditions of a people who exalt animalism, teaching that the highest exaltation, in heaven, comes of the exercise of man’s procreative powers, which are to continue in the next life, as in this. The social pleasures of the common people are found in the dance and the unmentionable excesses which follow.”
The more cultivated, however, have their literary clubs
BSac 59:235 (July 1902) p. 435
and social life of a higher order. There is in nearly every ward a young men’s mutual improvement society, as well as one for young ladies, in which current topics are discussed. These clubs are supposedly literary, though the bishops use them primarily as feeders to the church. Both Mormons and non-Mormons can become members of the association.
The societies are under the direct supervision of the church hierarchy, to which regular reports must be made. From the office of this general superintendency, a set of instructions is sent to the stake officers of the associations; another to these superintendents; another to ward presidents; and still another to members. A study of these instructions has revealed the absence of any freedom to choose courses for study, or of any liberty as to methods employed. The entire program is outlined by the general superintendency, which insists on its being followed minutely. The various officers of these associations are to answer, in addition to many others, the following questions: —
“Did you examine the records of each association in your stake last year?”
“Did you confer freely and fully with the presidency of your stake, in superintending the M. 1:A. work last year...
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