When I first researched the Church's history, I began as most, a devout Mormon who is clueless about it's history. It didn't take too long into my research before I ran across Denver Snuffer, and many more like him, in the Bloggernacle (the Mormon blogosphere). So who is Denver Snuffer and those "many more" that are like him? They are true believers in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are basically the new fundamentalist Mormon's that are breaking off of the main Salt Lake City based church. The reason I'm explaining this is... because there are many groups that trace their beginnings back to Joseph Smith and the restoration. The polygamists are fundamentalists, but Denver Snuffer and these groups are not part of them. They were Mormon's, they believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, they believe that the Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates, they believe in the First Vision, and that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. So what's their problem? Don't Mormon's believe all those things too? Why am I calling them the new fundamentalists?
They think the Church has veered from its roots and it all started with Brigham Young, and basically the Church has been off track ever since, and it's veering ever more off all the time. They doubt the leadership is getting revelation from Christ, and that basically the Church is in an apostasy. This new group is growing everyday. A lot of the outspoken ones have been excommunicated from the Mormon Church, like Denver Snuffer, others are just up and leaving the Church. They are being rebaptized and joining into small groups, very interesting, to say the least!
So, when I first started reading about these people, and reading their blogs, etc., I was somewhat intrigued. I tried to have an open mind about them, and I followed them and their activities all last year. I was interested in just watching what they were doing and saying, trying to give them the benefit of the doubt about their beliefs and activities. But here's the problem with these guys, they are very much able to see all the wrongs that Brigham Young did and the leaders up to the present day, but they turn a blind eye to Joseph Smith. Rock Waterman, who is among this group, who seems like a very nice person, really he does, and I think his intentions are good, and he has a lot of followers on his blog, A LOT. It's from Rock's blog that I first learned about so many of the Church's problems, but Rock thinks that Joseph Smith was not a polygamist. That's right you heard me correctly, even though the Church says he was, and all the evidence says he was. Rock believes a book called, Joseph Smith Fought Polygmany, I'll leave that one for you to decide, but for me, I'm just not buying it.
Denver Snuffer wrote some books, one in particular, Passing the Heavenly Gift, and he has a blog, and these two things basically got him exed from the Church. He held a series of free lectures that started in late 2013 and ran through 2014, mostly throughout Utah. I believe the first was in Boise, and the final was in Las Vegas. His lectures from these meetings are available on his blog, if you want to read them. As a consequence of all of this, among other things, people are leaving the Church and getting rebaptized, into what I don't know; Denver said he isn't starting a new Church. So when you do something as drastic as leave your church and get rebaptized, you need something else for these people to do, so they have set up these loose (without a lot of rules or structure) groups. From what I understand, they collect tithing and then distribute it to those in need.
As good intentioned as this is, is this not just fraught with problems? I hope not, I sincerely hope for the best for these people, but aren't you naturally going to have someone, rise up as the leader? Isn't there always one person in the group with better leadership skills or more charismatic? Won't that person become the leader? And what about the money? It just looks like trouble to me. I think it will start out benign enough, but there can't help be problems when you are putting your money in a little box and then handing it out to others, or deciding as a group who gets the money. I just don't see that working very well. When you are giving your hard earned dollars to the Church, and they are telling you that it is God's scared money and they would never waste it, and that God requires that of you, that is one thing, hey, God blessed me with this money and if he wants 10 percent back, to be used to help others, and the Church would never waste my scared funds, I can buy into that. I did buy into that, for 56 years! It never bothered me to give my money to God, Never. The fact that the Church is not transparent about those sacred funds and the way they are spent... well that's another post. But putting your money in a box and then watching it go out, and then watching how the receiver's spend it, that could cause problems down the line, just sayin'.
So why did I title this post, The Making of a Cult? Well, here it is... there's another group, I think it's another group anyway, how many of these groups there are I don't know, and if they are working together or separate, I don't know that either. All I know is, that there are a lot of people who think the Church is in a state of apostasy, and they believe in the literal restoration of Christ's Church through Joseph Smith. They are leaving the Church and being rebaptized. I received an invitation the above mentioned group's first gathering. It takes place in May, in Colorado. I don't want to say too much about this gathering, because I know that these people are sincere and well intended, but I can't help thinking that this is exactly how cults begin. Maybe everyone in a cult is a victim, even the leaders. I don't know.
This group's expressed goal is to: teach the doctrines of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, as provided through Joseph Smith and in scripture, to warn others of the impending calamites, and prepare for Zion. They say in no uncertain terms that the purpose of this gathering is NOT to start another church, they are just gathering as an informal community. Blah, blah, blah, isn't that how they all start? Even Shawn McCraney (Born Again Mormon) said in the beginning that he wasn't wanting to form a church, but he did. He may have a great church for all I know, he seems like a good person, its just that you can't believe the initial claims; they have to go somewhere and do something with all their talk. Even Shawn couldn't just criticize the LDS Church forever, things change and grow, and go in new directions. So these communities will either have to grow, or they will wither away. And that's the tricky part, how they grow, and who becomes in charge. They could easily turn into cults and take on a life of their own, a destructive life of their own.
Now I have a better understanding of how cults begin, I never understood them before, but I think I have a bird's eye view on the possible making of a few, very interesting, to say the least!