The Rise of Mormonism
Author Stephen Mansfield examines how Mormons, including Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have become a force in America.
BY: Stephen Mansfield
engine #3—education: training the saints to lead
Connect families such as these at the local level and they will naturally begin devoting themselves to one of the great Mormon priorities—education, another engine of the Mormon ascent created out of a spiritual calling. In the same way that individual Mormons and their families are eternal, so too is what they learn in this life. One of the well-known LDS scriptures on this theme declares, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” In other words, do your homework: you’ll need what you learn in eternity.Mormon education begins early and reaches tremen- dous heights. The Church Educational System (CES) offers a program called “primary” for younger children, operates a “seminary” for high school students to provide “eternal Mormon perspective” on what secular schools teach, and then maintains an “institute” that challenges college students to deeper faith. The LDS educational vision coalesces at Brigham Young University. Here, the Mormon devotion to education meets the calling to “prove worthy” and turns toward the chal- lenge of the modern world. Most BYU students are upper tier academically, most are bilingual, most possess proven leader- ship gifts, and most intend to do graduate work. They not only complete an aggressive curriculum but also enroll in supple- mental programs that fine-tune their skills. The attention to detail is impressive. Pre-law students can experience a profes- sional etiquette dinner to learn what fork to use for the salad or how to make introductions at those White House dinners they plan to attend. MBA students can attend personal coaching sessions at the Marriott School of Management. Then, of course, there is the two-year missionary stint that most Mormon males undergo. It has been called the “boot camp of Mormon great- ness.” From all of these educational processes, the message is clear: “We intend to lead.”
The Mormon culture of progress moves young Mormons to pursue education the way members of another religion might pursue heavenly visions. Graduate schools are full of Saints on their second or third advanced degree. Mitt Romney earned a law degree and an MBA and earned them both from Harvard—at the same time. US Senator Mike Lee’s father was the founding dean of Brigham Young Law School. In addi- tion to the seminary and institute required of all LDS high school and college students, Mike sat through family dinners that were regularly transformed into seminars on due process or the establishment clause. After these years, he earned an undergraduate degree from BYU, a law degree from BYU, became an Eagle Scout, clerked for a future US Supreme Court Justice, and somehow found two years in which to do his LDS missionary service in the Rio Grande Valley. No one was surprised when he ended up in the US Senate. He simply followed the Mormon way: the impartation of family, the priority of education, the holy duty of service, the wisdom of networking, the eternal mandate to achieve.