Catholics, Mormons, and Stephen Crane

My Organized Response to an LDS Missionary

Chapter 10 - The Carrot and the Stick

July 2001


Once there came a man
Who said,
"Range me all men of the world in rows."
And instantly
There was terrific clamour among the people
Against being ranged in rows.
There was a loud quarrel, world-wide.
It endured for ages;
And blood was shed
By those who would not stand in rows,
And by those who pined to stand in rows.
Eventually, the man went to death, weeping.
And those who staid in bloody scuffle
Knew not the great simplicity.

Stephen Crane:Black Riders #5

There are many people that are willing to brand the followers of Brigham Young a "cult". That is a dangerous accusation that I am not willing to make here. Such branding does not lead to thinking, analysis, or the open exchange of ideas. Of course, neither does systematic organized aggressive missionary work, but I digress.

It is my belief that all cults are lead by either a "living prophet" or a person in whom lay people are expect to set aside their own conscience and intellect in deference. That covers many organizations, not just the Salt Lake City LDS church.

A cult must have elements of brain washing and group pressure to conform. It must also systematically assimilate the other institutions that "normal" people rely upon, until major portions of its flock rely solely upon the institution for self-worth, life direction, social interaction, and economic livelihood. To be a cult in my book, it must wield both a formidable "carrot" and "stick" against its followers, not simply encouraging them to enjoy social connectedness and the personal satisfaction of leading a good life, but rather the two prong assault of reward and punishment.

Most religions, including those that I participate in, are satisfied to provide and perform simple things: to sing in the choir, tell or hear theological lore, pass on historical contexts; to bless children, bless marriages, bring comfort to the sick and peace to death's survivors; to feed and care for the poor, the abandoned, the infirm. For these religious institutions, there are no dues to pay and no threats held overhead. Love is given free of coersion, in the style proclaimed by those ancient, unamended, testaments of Jesus.

As I came of age, the Roman Catholics were fascinating to me for their Medieval rituals and beliefs. The clergy, male and female, cannot marry as they are married to the church. A bell is rung three times, and many religious tracts are chanted three times during the service. The host (communion wafers) is considered sacred once blessed by the priest, the "literal" body and blood of Christ (leading to a hilarious anecdote of a priest tripping with the chalice and nobody being allowed to sweep up the mess with a dustpan).

Have you ever kicked back and made fun of Islam's rituals? You know the Ayatollah was considered a "living prophet" by himself and millions of his followers, too. What about facing Mecca to bow and chant six or seven times a day (what would an Islamic astronaut do, and when?). Islam dictates, although certain of its "living prophets" have repealed that particular section of revelation, that woman must be veiled and may not drive cars or heal the sick? Isn't that a pathetic way to treat over half the population? Isn't that a scream? Obviously, any mortal man that declared that such ridiculous roadblocks to salvation were "revealed" to him directly by God was either consciously or unconsciously making it all up, right? It is easy for two people to belittle or disregard the beliefs of a third. I mean, God doesn't put silly and ridiculous locks on the gates of heaven, right? Well certainly not the ones specified by those other religions anyway!

When shall we talk about Mormon temple rites?

I have read voraciously any information I can find on them. Now I cannot state for certain, since I have never been in a Mormon temple (except to visit the one in Farmington, Utah before it was "sealed" from the unclean likes of me). I would be delighted to learn the truth about what goes in there, and encourage you to procure a "temple recommend" for me that I might share its delights and correct any misinformation I have received.

Oh, but you can't.

These secret and sacred rites are not available to me, according to the "living prophet", unless I jump through a series of more and more complex hoops. With each hoop, I should suspend a greater degree of my own judgment and intellect and rely instead upon that provided "providentially" to me by the "living prophet" and his followers. Check your brains at the door, these rites are sacred and defy human comprehension. They were, after all, "revealed".


I guess we are back to defining a "cult" and my old friend Huckleberry Finn. In my book, a cult must invent or possess a place, thing, or ritual that creates a segregated population between those that have it and those that do not. You know, just like the way Jesus did in the New Testament. They must possess that thing, place or ritual and systematically reward those that possess, reside or perform it and deny or exclude those that do not. I'm not talking about dinner rides on the boss's boat, although what a great example about the addictive and easily influencable nature of human beings.

To be a cult, it must invoke something of fear. Very few churches aim to do that. The Catholics preach about eternal damnation, as do sects from Judaism, Islam and the followers of Joseph Smith. That certainly is their right, but lets call it like it is. This environment of fear is the fine print that is left off the book jackets in the Marriott desk drawer and the fine print missing from "call this number for a free bible" TV ads. It is a church based on segregation, derision and fear.

Such a group must first grant the perceived or invented "gift" to a select set of followers, much like the first "living prophet" did in New York and Kirtland. Then he must carefully balance giving it out and holding it back so that enough receive it (to confirm its greatness) while enough are denied it (to whip their souls to a frenzy). That is how cults get their members to do things that from afar seem incredible and impossible to comprehend by an unindoctrinated lay person. I am sure that you have read of such ritualistic segregation leading to suicide bombers and poison laced Kool-Aid. And the Mormons are among the groups that systematically use this very dangerous technique.

There are some certain rituals, that I am only vaguely aware of and possibly misinformed about, that I must perform in a temple, either in person or by proxy, to achieve LDS eternal bliss. The rules of life "behind the veil" are defined by the "living prophet" and his followers and do not bind to the rules of this world. I am told and I am expected to believe, follow, and alter my life to optimize my status within those dictated rules. Is this about "loving thy neighbor", and "thy will be done"? If not, why are they performed? And if the rituals are Christlike, why are they done in a locked temple under strict segregation? Why can't I simply walk into an LDS temple tomorrow morning and get my personal piece of grace?

Oh, that would make me uncontrollable. I must want, or better yet NEED the grace, the divinity, the eternal comfort and bodily pleasures provided by recipients of that restricted ritual and I must fear the abandonment, the Satanistic prison, the eternal suffering "revealed" to the "living prophet" as what is due to those that do not administer that rite. Does anybody believe that the source of that line of reasoning is from anywhere except the mind of man? And surely a man that fancies himself to be a "living prophet" no less.

So back to Huck Finn and the Pearly Gates of heaven.


Copyright, 2001, All rights reserved

Chapter 9 Return to Main Page Chapter 11

Introduction & Background


I'm Right and They're Wrong


Serene Futility


Under Duress


Damning Hypocrisy


Money in the Bank


Institutional Corruption


The Carrot and the Stick


God's Voice


Heaven Must Be Laughing


"All Religions are Corrupt"


God the Bouncer


Sealed with Chains


Unlock the Temple Doors

Catholic & Mormon Links Page

Originally Written: April 2001
First Upload: July 2001
Last Update: November 4, 2001