The Rise of Mormonism
Author Stephen Mansfield examines how Mormons, including Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have become a force in America.
The features of these thriving families are becoming better known as Mormons reach demographic critical mass. A Mormon mother and father believe that they were already joined before their life in this world began. They also already had children. They have a duty, they are taught, to make sure they give birth to enough bodies for all of their preexistent children. Mormon families, then, tend to be large. It is not uncommon for a professor at Brigham Young University to have eleven children. A family of thirteen children in a Mormon family is not unheard of. J. Willard Marriott, the founder of the hotel chain, was one of eight children. David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, is the father of nine. Stephen Covey, the management genius, is also the father of nine—and grandfather to fifty-two!
As important as the size of these families is the culture they create. If they remain true to Church teaching, children in these families will understand themselves as playing a vital role in an eternal family purpose. They will respect their parents, help their siblings, and embrace their family as almost the central priority of their lives—and not merely a tyranny to escape as soon as the law allows. None of these family members will drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, have sex outside of marriage, or even drink caffeine. They will serve their Church and their community by way of serving their God. Parents will invest in the education of each child as a religious duty. All will attend meetings in which their eternal calling, unity, character, and purpose will be reinforced. Fatherhood, motherhood, sonship, and daughterhood will not be understood as the product of biology alone. They will be cherished as eternal spiritual states modeled after beloved heavenly beings. When the time is right, members of Mormon families will be “sealed” to each other “for time and all eternity” in sacred Temple ceremonies. The ties that bind will never be broken. Ever.
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.”