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1905_02_04--013_SP [The Mormon System]

14 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST February 4, 1905 APOSTLE GEORGE A. SMITH REED SMOOT, THE MORMON APOSTLE WHO WAS ELECTED TO THE U. S. SENATE APOSTLE HYRAM M. SMITH President Smith, before the Senate Committee on the Smoot inquiry, in response to questions by Senator McComas, admitted: t. That the counselors (to the First President ) were first chosen by revelation, but that ever since the councils of the Apostles have had a voice in the selection of their successors. 2. That vacancies are filled by the body of the twelve themselves, with the consent of the First Presidency. 3. That it is a succession rather than an election. Besides being Prophet, Seer and Revelator, President of the Church of Latter-Day Saints Joseph F. Smith is president of eighteen industrial or fiscal corporations, representing above $25,000,000 of capital, and including several monopolies. He stated before the Senate Committee that his relations to these corporations were due to his large personal holdings and his selection by friends who were stockholders. The tithing system and the " graft " of the hierarchy is the African in the woodpile, and they explain the anxiety of the Church leaders for political dominance. It is. the policy of the Church to employ only Mormons in their industrial enterprises—the exceptions being cases where the necessary skill cannot be supplied by home talent, and these outsiders usually are retained only until native skill may be trained. As this policy is supplemented in the business enterprises of individual Mormons throughout the State who are more or less dependent upon the larger institutions at the capital, or on the Church directly, it happens that nearly the entire Mormon population, except that engaged in agriculture, is dependent for its means of livelihood upon the Church; and employees have found by experience that rebellion against tithing, or a political expression at variance with the Church policy of the moment, is followed by reproval, and, if the victim be persistent, by dismissal. The only Gentile who can be elected to office is one who will be subservient to the Church policy. If he prove docile his way will be easy, for there is nothing small about the hierarchy. It is an organized policy—persistent, impersonal, Machiavellian—and that element of Gentiles which is complaisant is courted by the Church leaders as evidence of its professed fairness in the division of spoils and its indifference to any sort of politics that will not antagonize its policy. On the other hand, for a Gentile to enter the political arena without attention to the invisible wires is to invite defeat; for a Mormon to enter without the consent of his ecclesiastical superior is to invite excommunication and ostracism. Generally speaking, only the pioneers who came to Utah between 1848 and 1852 were Americans. The implanting of polygamy, which was foreign to the religion of the first Prophet, Joseph Smith, and which was a political afterthought, turned American blood away from the institution, and the bulk of the Mormon population has since mainly been drawn from the artisan and peasant classes of England, Wales, Scotland and the Scandinavian countries. These have been settled in colonies, have remained more or less isolated, and still retain much of their native habit and local customs. But the original American and his foreign successor possessed the perfervid religious imagination always prone to accept superstition as an explanation of the subjective emotions, so well wrought upon by the Mormon creed, and the emotions of the pioneer have become settled mental habits in his descendants. It was easy for the hierarchy to govern with subjective phenomena, expressed as revelation, when this was exactly the interpretation required. It was easy to impose a system of tithing, as that was the only method that could be applied in an organized society situated as the Mormons were during the first generation of their sojourn. It was a kind of compromise between a pure socialism and a joint-stock concern, and with it all the operations of a complicated society were successfully executed. The tithe was paid in produce, upon which scrip was issued; the scrip circulated as money, and, so long as Mormonism was purely an intensive institution, was receivable for taxes, and performed all the functions of a circulating medium. But with the Gentile influx, the cash system, and individualized methods in production and commerce, the tithing system got out of joint. The National Government asserted its supremacy, and territorial, county and municipal government gradually ousted the Church from its governing function. The growth of the school system, road and irrigation improvements, entailed a larger tax list each year, and neither the cost of government nor of public improvements could be met with tithing scrip, except through a tortuous and expensive exchange through the tithing-house, with cash by no means always available there. Thus it is that now the Mormon producer is confronted with two systems of taxation —that by the State and municipality, high to the breaking point, and that by the Church of ten per cent. annually upon his gross income. The latter served a great purpose in its day, but its application now is a heavy burden upon the mass of the laity and only serves to build up great fortunes for the Church leaders. The industries developed out of the fund are pure monopolies, stifling individual enterprise, and tending to reduce the people who are in the position of employees to a species of peonage. Meanwhile the old tithing scrip still serves its original purpose in a small way, principally in working out the charities of the Church. The system of double tax is bearing heavily upon the agricultural population. The arable land of Utah is contained in large, narrow valleys, and subdivided into farms seldom exceeding forty acres, and usually not more than twenty. The land is not nearly so productive as formerly, having been impoverished by overcropping and careless farming. Except near to the few large towns and mining camps, good markets are not available; the heavy cost of transportation on the interstate railways, and the long wagon hauls where there are no railroads, make it more difficult each year for the Utah farmer to make ends meet. The increase of tillable acreage has caused increasing shortage in the irrigation water supply, and adds an additional element of uncertainty to farming operations. If a Gentile, with a view to purchase, go into any of these valleys he will be astonished at the great number of good offers he receives, and will gain an impression of the unsatisfactory conditions surrounding the Mormon farmers that he will get in no other way. Those who can sell usually leave the country, seeking, where possible, regions where other Mormons are colonizing, for the most of them are true to their religion, and have a pathetic veneration for the high priesthood that has had no counterpart since the era of Renaissance. There is an idyllic simplicity in the lives of these country people quite striking to the strenuous American, and while the two peoples are of the same European stock, the isolation and intensiveness of the Mormon have left him much like his forefathers, plus greater comfort and freedom from many of the cares of life whereof the paternalism of the Church has relieved him. But the conditions and paternalism have minimized his energy, and he has failed to acquire the thrift of the Eastern American. He is industrious, of sober habit, but easy-going and fond of holidays, and the Gentile is slowly buying him out. The Mormon farmers are very social in their habits, usually living in small towns and going out daily to till their lands. They are well-mannered and polite to Gentiles who come among them, but suspicious, and difficult to get acquainted with. Yet they constitute the great body of the Mormon population; they form the conservative element of Mormondom, and such American political ideals as they have imbibed during the past quarter-century are so strongly tinctured with Church political theology that vox poftull, vox Dei is inverted into vox Dei, vox popull—for it is this element that always may be relied upon to vote according to the latest revelation of the Prophet. Three generations of this mental habit have firmly fixed their belief in the Divine inspiration of the priestly chiefs, whose pretense that they do not interfere in politics or other temporal matters may only be interpreted by the use they have made of their opportunities— and this has been to control every political factor in the State, the only Gentile admixture being from those whose complaisance was needed to emphasize the pretense of noninterference in the few larger cities where there is a strong Gentile population. It is not so much the spoils of office that the religious chiefs aspire to as the power of control, especially in the Legislature, PRW O. RV C R. S.W. SW urr <ITT , IJTAR r ore. n R. r synod, MO LAM CITY, IRAN APOSTLE GEORGE TEASDALE APOSTLE FRANCIS M. LYMAN APOSTLE CHARLES W. PENROSE APOSTLE HEBER J. GRANT


1905_02_04--013_SP [The Mormon System]
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