Most people have noticed that political identity is now stronger in members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints than religious identity. For example, religious authorities asking people to wear face masks are routinely ignored by members under them who differ on the matter as a part of politics.
That is because there are no longer many Mormons.
A significant part of that feature was that Mormons acted as if they were part of an expanded family. Membership as a Mormon was more about acting in common, belonging to the community than it was about belief or behaviors.
The cultural entanglements, such as road shows, dance festivals, group dinners, sports leagues and the chapel as a community center created a vibrant sense of identity.
As Brigham Young stated, you were welcome as a Mormon as long as you participated, regardless of your beliefs. The importance of status markers, financial success and other factors was less important than group/family membership. A federal judge might have an enlisted man’s family over for dinner, for example, because they were both Mormons.
And, of course, religious or ethnic identity was much more important than politics.
The end of Mormons has resulted in an end of that identity.
As a result, social status, political views and other issues are much more important to those who used to be Mormons than the Church, which continues to grow less and less relevant to their lives.
When someone moves into a ward, it is not a member of the family coming home, it is now a time to evaluate them as either a benefit or a drain to the community. When a religious leader calls for an action, such as wearing Facemasks to combat the pandemic, you get protests such as the one in the recent news if a local school wants the same thing done.
While some of those in the picture are not LDS, that identity isn’t what is important to them. Their political identity is.
Additionally, belief has become more important than acting in common. A great deal of scrupulosity has emerged. “Building a fence around the law” has gone from a criticism made by Christ in the New Testament to a virtue.
They also existed in Jesus’ day. Much of His conversations with the Pharisees centered on the Law and tearing down the fences they had erected. Fences that kept people out of the kingdom of God and away from the Gospel. We can find one of these conversations in which Jesus seeks to kick down the fences in Mark 7:1–23 and Matthew 15:1–20.https://www.1517.org/articles/the-hidden-fences-of-the-law
Indeed, one way to mark the end of Mormons is to mark the end of the lessons on not building a hedge around the law and the move to creating such hedges instead.
Socializing is more by social status and class than as a group, congregation or ward.
There are other changes.
For example, one big change is how sexual offenses are treated by the Church. When I was younger, men were punished more harshly because they had position and power.
Now, the common complaint is that men are not held as accountable but are instead protected when they abuse others sexually—because they have position and power. News stories seem to report this steadily.
I could say more, or less on the subject of changes, but I think I will leave it to the comments by our readers to discuss the changes they have seen or experienced.
So, I have questions for our readers.
- What changes have you noticed most in the Church as it has ceased to be Mormon?
- What things do you see as better?
- What do you miss?
- What do you think of the loss of relevance the Church has to member’s lives compared to the relevance of their political party?
- Do you think status consciousness is an improvement?
- What are the downsides to membership as it has lost the meaning becoming part of an ethnic group or extended family?
- What does membership in the Church mean to you now?
- What other thoughts do you have?