Two Letter Re: Why Is Utah Not in the American Redoubt?

Jim,
To be fair, when you referenced the history of changes to LDS doctrine over the years that appears on the anti-Mormon “ldsvideo.org” web site you should have included the LDS’ perspective, which can be found here. – Kelly G.

James:
 I have been following your blog for a couple of weeks now. I first heard about SurvivalBlog from my father, who attended a preparedness workshop you spoke at in Lakeland, Florida a few weeks back. Your blog has been very informative, and I agree with you on many of the issues you discuss.
 
I am writing to respond to a letter from Jordan in Utah about that state’s lack of inclusion in the American Redoubt. I understand and somewhat agree with your opinion about Utah’s overall climate being a deterrent to large-scale food production (or at least large enough to sustain the population), but would like to note that there are some large fertile regions in Utah where crop and livestock farming takes place (Cache, Utah, and Sanpete Valleys, as well as the Uinta Basin and Delta area). As a devout Latter-day Saint, I appreciated your response to that letter with your kind words about good people you know who are Mormons, as well as your reference to the church’s Doctrine and Covenants for those seeking information about LDS doctrine. However, I wanted to point out that you are overlooking the LDS church’s teachings and culture regarding the importance of individual preparedness and self-reliance, which I consider important to this discussion. Having been raised as a Mormon, I can wholeheartedly assert that these are dominant themes that Mormons hear about almost weekly as they attend their church meetings.
 
The church teaches its members that physical and spiritual self-reliance should be a primary goal in life (see providentliving.org, a church web site about self-reliance). This includes building and rotating an emergency food supply, maintaining a financial reserve for unexpected emergencies, and helping to care for poor and needy neighbors through the fast offering program (where members fast for 24 hours each month and donate the money they would have spent on food as “fast offerings”). Mormons are also taught that an individual’s family and church (in that order) should be the primary safety nets as attempts at self-reliance fail—government support should be a last resort. These teachings on preparedness are a logical progression of the doctrine that we are living in the Last Days before the Second Coming of the Savior, the tribulations of which have been prophesied in each of the church’s canonical works, which include the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
 
In my view, the Mormon pioneers were the ultimate survivalists, and preparedness culture remains firmly entrenched within the LDS community, both in doctrine and in practice. This stems from the oppression—both from overreaching government and from hostile neighbors—that early Latter-day Saints experienced. Jordan’s mention of cliquish behavior and suspicion toward outsiders among some Mormons in Utah is an unfortunate relic of these experiences. When I attended college in Utah, I witnessed this behavior on occasion, but I believe it is a minority practice and one not seen as much among church members outside Utah. In general, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints promotes diversity and inclusion, and is very welcoming toward newcomers. I have experienced this firsthand as I have visited LDS congregations in several states both in the U.S. and in Mexico.
 
Another issue I wanted to address is Jordan’s mention of the “corporate teachings” of the church. This is an inaccurate view which arises from recently-mainstreamed progressive ideologies. The church lives within its means and does not spend money it does not have. It invests its money wisely and conservatively. In several cases, the church has purchased large land parcels with the goal of producing food to assist with self-reliance and disaster relief programs worldwide. The City Creek development project in downtown Salt Lake City (widely maligned by critics of the church as being evidence of LDS corporate culture) added hundreds of jobs to the local economy, improved the then-deteriorating urban atmosphere surrounding Temple Square (headquarters of the church and one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the country), and was completed without spending a cent of the church’s tithing funds. The church also maintains Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, which provides access to food, clothing, and employment counseling to needy people. There is no church membership requirement to access these resources. The bottom line is that the church is a self-reliant organization, and not the elitist, corporatist organization that its critics would have you believe. (For more information on the church’s financial model, please see church apostle David A. Bednar’s recent address, “The Windows of Heaven”)
 
I hope this clears up any misconceptions about the LDS church’s teachings regarding preparedness and self-reliance. I know these issues are somewhat tangential from the purpose of the original post, but these are some of the thoughts I had when I read that letter. Please let me know if I can answer any questions you might have about the LDS church. Once again, I’d like to congratulate you on your informative web site.
 
Best wishes,- David B. in Kansas

JWR Replies: I appreciate you feedback on that recent letter. I agree that the only way that someone can properly evaluate a church is to fully investigate its doctrine and practices. There is a wide range of opinion on the LDS Church, but as with any other controversial topic, it is only fully-informed opinions that should be heeded. Choose your church wisely.

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