What would happen in my town under a ‘Jericho’ scenario: the Church would lead

Some of you may have seen the TV series “Jericho.” If you have not, and you don’t like spoilers, don’t read on (we have some very sensitive readers when it comes to spoilers on this blog).

“Jericho” is a TV show that explores what happens in a small town in Kansas named Jericho after nuclear weapons destroy multiple cities in the U.S. There’s love, and evil, and food storage issues, and some very intriguing stories dealing with how people struggle without a government.

I really like the series “Jericho,” but it has a huge, and I mean HUGE, fault, which is: there are no major religious figures, nobody really talks about going to church at all, and no church plays any important roll in the town. We are talking about small-town Kansas here. Have none of the writers of “Jericho” actually been to Kansas? In every town in Kansas, local pastors play a central and crucial role.

I live in small-town Colorado, which pretty similar to small-town Kansas. Our ward (we have one ward for the town and surrounding farms) is central to the community. No big community event gets planned without the Mormons playing a part. So, if many nuclear weapons were to hit the U.S., I can confidently say that, at least in my small town, the Church would take a central role.

We are the ones who town officials call on to volunteer at many local events.  Our teenagers are always involved in local plays and community musicals.  We help run the local Habitat for Humanity store.  One of our ward members is on the town council.  The mayor and police chief always come to our 4th of July breakfast.  The local Scouts (based in our ward) are very active in the community.

Importantly, our High Priest Group Leader has developed an emergency response plan that is pretty complete.  We have literally dozens of ward members with chain saws, trucks with trailers, tractors, generators and other emergency equipment.  Most members have food storage.  We are armed to the teeth — I would guess nearly every member of the ward has mulitiple guns at home (just as an example, one of our most popular recent ward events was the Elders Quorum Friday Night Date Night Trap Shoot.  About 20 couples — including me and my wife — went there to shoot trap on our date night.  It was awesome).

Most importantly, we are a volunteer-oriented ward. When I moved in, more than 50 people showed up to help us move in.  People respond when asked to help, and we have all the phone numbers stored.  We keep in touch with each other.  We are organized.

But the other churches are pretty organized too.  We have Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians and a pretty strong group of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  There are several nondenominational evangelical churches that get big crowds on Sundays.

“Jericho” includes plot lines where mercenaries try to attack the town, and the mayor’s sons organize the resistance.  The churches would be involved in that.  “Jericho” includes many moral and ethical issues.  How should the food be distributed?  How can people help harvest from the local farms?  Should a bridge into town be blown up so the mercenaries can’t attack?  What to do with an accused murderer when there is no judge and a very small police force?  Again, in any real-life small town, pastors and Mormon bishops would be weighing in on these issues, but in the TV show all of the religious people disappear (or apparently don’t exist at all).

I think some hard times are coming, but of course I have no idea of what those hard times will entail.  It seems having food storage and being self-sufficient prepares you for those hard times.  But the TV show “Jericho” teaches you a very important lesson:  organizing skills become extremely important during disasters.  When it comes to that issue, we Mormons are pretty well positioned to help out.



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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

8 thoughts on “What would happen in my town under a ‘Jericho’ scenario: the Church would lead

  1. I know in our small town we have an eccumenical council that meets often and works to get all the different churches/faiths etc involved in community events. With my own recent experences with disaster, I can say, that more often than not, people and churches would step up to lead and be there for anyone who needed help.

  2. There are many potential things that could devastate nations right now, with economy just one thing. Natural disasters, such as the earthquake that hit Japan, or the hurricane that wiped out the Gulf Coast, open up the door for many groups to step up.

    I note that in the disasters I’ve worked on, or been apprised of, the LDS Church has been at the forefront, often having hundreds or even thousands more assisting than any other group. And living east of the Mississippi means we are not the majority religious group by far.

    Right now, scientists are concerned about massive solar flares. We’ve had several this year alone, but none have hit us directly. July 2013 is supposed to be the most active time for this cycle of solar flares, and if we have anything like they’ve had a few times in the past, it could knock out our power grid, nuclear plants, etc., for several years. One that was exactly a century before I was born, Sept 1, 1859, shocked telegraph operators and set some telegraph machines on fire.



    If such a major disaster as Jericho occurred, which religion would have skills regarding rebuilding, have food to share with others while we rebuild, and have a strong organizational capability to direct such a project? Perhaps only the Mormons in some areas.

  3. I’m surprised no one mentioned the article which argues that Mormons would basically be the modern version of the Catholic church from the early middle ages. The article also cited Orson Scott Cards post apocalypitc book that makes the same arguments in the OP. http://www.slate.com/id/2224050/

  4. I have had neighbors who have neglected to store food in the event of an emergency. One of their rationalizations was, “A lot of my neighbors have food storages. If things go kaput, the Bishop will just take everyone’s and distribute it according to need. I’m not worried.”

    I think we need to remember that in the event of a disaster scenario like the one depicted in Jericho, I don’t think church leaders will use coercive force and forcibly take and redistribute necessities. For that reason, many of the dilemmas illustrated in the show will still be valid dilemmas (what do we do when people are hoarding their supplies?). The church has always respected private property as such (see Marion G. Romney’s talk on the difference between socialism/communism and the united order).

  5. “Friday night date night trap shoot”? Your ward is so cool. Can I come live in your town?

    I have often wondered if local governments, know about LDS food storage, bishop store houses, etc would try to confiscate the food and if so, what would be Church’s stance on that (I am thinking 12th article of faith).

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