MORMONISM AND POLYGAMY.
Capt. John Codman has done a considera-ble service to the cause of honest govern-ment in an article on Mormonism, which is published in the September number of the International Review. There has been a good deal of loose moralizing in the Religious and secular press of the United States con-erning the religion of Mormon, yet it is no more amenable to ecclesiastical or political censure, save in one of its features, than a hundred other false faiths. Unquestionably it is a form of superstition and imposture, but so is Mohammedanism, for example. A community of Mohammedans that should conform to the customs and obey the laws of the United States could not be interfered with, and the Mormons would be entitled to the same privileges and protection if they should agree tomorrow to abandon polyg-amy.
Mormonism is a fraud. The Mormon Bible was dug up in New York State and palmed off on a credulous people for a Divine revela-tion. Fraudulent character is not, however, a cause for interference with religion in the United States; and, but for the institution of polygamy, which is a sort of appendix to the original Mormon "revelation," the morality of that Church is as pure as that of Christi-anity itself. It is, in fact, borrowed from the Founder of Christianity. The Mormons be-iieve in Christ. Their doctrine of the atone-ment is more orthodox than that of Dr. Thomas. They boldly avow their obligation to Christianity for the main articles of their creed. They believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; in salva-tion by faith and repentance; baptism by immersion; the laying on of hands; in the organization of the primitive Church; the gift of tongues, prophecy, visions, and healing; that the Bible is the Word of God; in the personal reign of Christ upon the earth; the worshiping of all men according to the dictates of their consciences; in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and doing good to all men. The rules of the order condemn profanity; enjoin morning and evening prayer; declare the Sabbath to be a holy day; urge personal cleanliness and chastity upon all disciples.
Polygamy is an excrescence of Mormonism. It was added to the body of doctrine by Joseph Smith, who "wallowed in sensuality, and needed some such personal revelation to cover his manifold violations of the article concerning chastity. But there is now, and has for a long time been, a powerful sect of Mormons, known as the Josephites, who re-ject polygamy. The rulers of the Church have it within their power to crush out the accursed institution at any time. There are 124,000 Mormons in Utah. Of these, barely 3,000 males and 7,000 females, most of them old people, are living in a state of polyg-amy. The institution is not popular with the younger generation. It is too ex-pensive. Besides, the young women who have any experience of it in their own families utterly abhor it. The plural wives are chiefly recruited from the lower class of Scandinavian immigrants who would rather share the favors of a wife than accept the lowly station of a domestic. They have little knowledge of marital obligations, and have not learned to respect them highly. It is manifest that this class of polygamists are not so deserving of sympathy as the native women who are drawn into unlawful rela-tions through misrepresentations. The num-ber of the latter is comparatively small.
The United States Government has a plain and solemn duty to perform with reference to polygamy. That "ulcer" must be cut out. If Mormonism goes with it so much the worse for the devotees of that religion. But there is no apparent reason why they should both go down together. The religion is simply a pious fraud, while the institution of polygamy is a crime. The Government has nothing to do with the former; it has everything to do with the latter. Unless polygamy is a fundamental principle of Mormonism, as it need not be, it will be de-stroyed without permanent injury to the parent growth. The infatuated attachment of the Mormons to the practice of plural marriages can scarcely be explained except on the supposition that they are courting persecution. If this is their object, undoubt-edly they will shortly be accommodated to the fullest extent.
When polygamy is done away with, as it must be, it will be possible for the American people to think more kindly of the Mormon history. The Church is composed of igno-rant and credulous people. But it has ac-complished wonders. The migration from Missouri to Utah was undertaken for the express purpose of taking the Church beyond the boundaries of the United States. Utah was then in Mexican territory. It was a des-olate region. The Mormons made it literally "blossom like the rose." They have been a frugal, temperate, industrious, and, incred-ible as it may seem, in one sense, a chaste people. If the General Government can do them the service of rooting out polygamy from their midst, they will have no further occasion to defend themselves. The laws cannot touch them. They may live long and prosper in the Territories which their fathers explored and first opened to settlement.
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