Some Perspective

President Hinckley used to say that the church was coming out of obscurity, and indeed his PR appearances and the predictions of Rodney Stark that the LDS church would soon become a major world religion seemed to confirm such a notion.

It was a huge shock to me, when I lost my faith and non-Mormons talked more openly with me about the church, that the church was a miniscule presence in American life, and that most people didn’t think much about it, other than it was a bit odd.

Joseph Smith had predicted that his name would be had for good and evil the world over, but mostly people have never heard of him, and those who have are indifferent to an obscure religious leader who lived nearly 200 years ago. Far from being a stone that has rolled forth to cover the earth, the LDS church has made minor inroads in places around the world, with perhaps 4 million active adherents, but the stone appears to be slowing to a halt and perhaps beginning to roll backwards.

A good comparison to Mormonism, in my view, is the movement of Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian guru who died this past week. Sai Baba had at his death, it is said, 6 million or so active followers around the world. His organization has spread throughout the world, and it has built schools, universities, and hospitals, and funded charitable work, such as water-purification plants, in poor areas. Sai Baba counted as friends and followers presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities.

This is the kind of career that I believe Joseph Smith envisioned for himself. Instead, he lived and died in and out of jail in obscure frontier towns, disdained by the powerful and influential. I would bet money that in 200 years, Sathya Sai Baba will still be more influential than Joseph Smith.

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3 Responses to Some Perspective

  1. ff42 says:

    Who? 8) Seriously, I’ve never heard of Baba before.

  2. Daniel says:

    Oh, hell. You mean we’re stuck with the Sai forever now?

    I was hoping not.

  3. Odell says:

    Does the LDS church hide information? Yes.

    It hides information by denying access to it.

    It hides information by refusing to include critical information in lesson manuals.

    It hides information by labeling critical information as “anti-Mormon” thus causing members not to explore or understand it.

    It hides information by controlling church instructors from using independent research in the presentation of church lessons.

    It hides information when church authorities threaten members aware of critical information from discussing it openly in church meetings or with church members or face church discipline.

    Mormon apologists are pathetic when they attempt to blame the victim for the church’s brutal intellectual reprisals for those who would seek to understand and learn.

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