Where a previous post looked at the perception of Mormonism as a business, this one looks at the secular success of Mormon individuals.
When the LDS Church was first founded, there was no hint of a financial powerhouse in the making. If anything, the complete opposite seemed to be the case. Joseph Smith came from a farming family living on the edge of social, political, and economic existence. Although early on there were a few rich people who converted, the majority of members came from not much better than poverty. A hint of democracy and self-reliance can be found in the theological teachings, but the driving financial model was a form of communistic philanthropy. It failed whenever practiced and left tithing as the main economic structure.
For decades the financial situation was at best questionable. Most of the resources came from people’s hard work more than money. Things came to a head during the “great polygamy raids” that almost brought the LDS Church to ruins. It wasn’t until the mid 20th Century started that the LDS Church and its members alike were recognized as a financial success. Before that, critics used the poverty of converts as a focut of scorn. Now, the rich business owner has become almost a cliche as well known as the so-called Jewish banker. The web site Famous Mormons does seem to make this case with the number of names listed. However, it is only a small snapshot of a growing religion that relatively recently mixed in with the wider social tapestry. Continue reading