Are Mormons Christians?
The civil code of the Sandwich Islands exempts from personal taxes: All clergy-men of any Christian denomination regu-larly engaged in their vocation."
On an appeal taken by H. P. Richards, an Elder of the Mormon church, to the Supreme Court of the Islands, because his occupation was taxed, the question was, whether he was a clergyman of the Chris-tian religion.
We quote from the opinion of the Supreme Court delivered by Justice Mc-Cully:
"The following is the creed exhibited by the defendant: We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression; we believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obe- dience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; we believe that these ordinances are, first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion, for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost; we believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy, and by laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof; we believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz.: Apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.; we believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.; we believe the Bible to be the word of God; we believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we be-lieve that He will reveal many great and important things pertaining to the King-dom of God; we believe in the literal gath-ering of Israel, and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its para-disaic glory; we Claim the privilage of wor-shipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may; we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law; we believe in being hon-est, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say, that we follow the admonition of Paul, we believe all things, we hope all things, if there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Taking this testimony to be true, and there is nothing offered to contradict it, why should not Mormon minister be held for the purposes of this statute to be a Christian minister? I find no difficulty in holding that the defendant is a minister. The counsel for the Crown argued from his taking the title of "Elder" and not "Rev.," that he had disclaimed holding ministerial office. But he testifies that such is the designation of a minister or clergyman in his denomination, and that he is a clergyman or minister. It does not appear why the use of the term "Rev." should be the test of the class of persons intended by the statute. It is the custom of some other denominations to style their ministers "Elders." The Baptists and Methodists do this to a considerable extent. The ministers of the Roman church are usually styled "Father."
It is equally clear from defendant's tes-timony, that he is in the exercise of his calling. He has come to this kingdom for that purpose. He exercises no other em- ployment, and he is supported by the peo-ple of his denomination for the reason that he gives them his time and labor in exer-cising the ministerial office for them. The evident intention of the law is to exempt Christian ministers from the burden of tax-es, on the ground that they must be sup-ported by portions of the community, and to tax them, is to impose an additional tax on the public in the support of religion and morals. For the same reason church sites are exempt. The question remains, is the defendant, being a Mormon minister, a Christian minister? Upon the proofs of-fered and the creed presented he must be considered such. He believes in Christ and preaches Him. The church is styled the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. They accept the Old and New Testament."
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