🠈 United Order of Enoch 🠊
The 1800s sported its share of Utopian thinkers. While main stream America sought to develop a society that respected individual property rights, utopian thinkers believed that happiness would follow through communal living and the abolition of private property.
Utopian thinkers such as Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery latched onto the Latter Day Saints movement seeing the creation of a new religion as a way to promote utopia ideals.
In 1833, Joseph Smith published a work he called the "Book of Commandments." Mr. Smith claimed that the commandments were revealed directly to him by God. This book created a thing called The United Order of Enoch. This order empowered local bishops to seize and collective the property of the people in the area.
People resisted and Joseph Smith wrote a modified the Book of Commandments under the title "The Doctrine and Covenants" with the Order of Enoch somewhat muted.
The interesting thing here is that the LDS Church internalized the conflict between those seeking liberty and those seeking collectivization before the world at large was confronted with the issue.
Many people find the ideals of communal living attractive and many Mormon pioneers attempted to live their lives according to the United Order of Enoch. Others took to the homesteading ideals of the United States. The mainstream Mormon church gives vocal support to property ownership. LDS Fundamentalists practice the ideals of the Early LDS Church including plural marriage and communal living.
Below is text from Chapter 44 (page 92) from the Book of Commandments: (This is a historically interesting document. Marx's aphorism "From each according to his ability to each according to his need" seems to come directly from Joseph Smith.")
25 Thou knowest my laws, they are given in my scriptures, he that sinneth and repenth not, shall be cast out.
26 If thou lovest me, thou shat serve me and keep all of my commandments; and behold, thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto me, with a covenant and deed which cannot be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church, and two of the elders, such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose.
27 And it shall come to pass, that the bishop of my church, after that he has received the properties of my church, that it can not be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, in as much as is sufficient for himself and family:
28 And the residue shall be kept to administer to him who has not, that every man may receive according as he stands in need:
29 And the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer the poor and needy, as shall be appointed to the elders of the church and the bishop; and for the purpose of purchasing lands, and the building up of the New Jerusalem, which is hereafter to be revealed; that my covenant people may be gathered in one, in the day that I shall come to my temple.
The United Order of Enoch starts with the bold statement that Joseph Smith's words are Commandments directly from God. Those who do not follow Joseph Smith's words are sinners who need to be castigated and cast out.
Smith then tells his followers that they must surrender all of their property to the Church or be sinners. He appoints bishops to venture forth and collect this property. This process is called "collectivization."
Needless to say, when the bishops set out to collect people's property, the people balked.
Things got so tense for Smith that he retreated and rewrote the Book of Commandments (a doctrine he claimed were from God) as the "Doctrine and Covenants."
The Book of Commandments also introduced a quaint practice called polygamy. Joseph Smith began "sealing" himself to the wives of his followers and with 14 year old girls.
Although Smith had retracted the mandates of the Order of Enoch, many faithful wanted to continue the experiment in collectivization.
Sidney Rigdon was leading a collective in Missouri. The collective tried to dominate the region and had a great deal of troubles with its neighbors. On July 4th, 1838, Mr. Rigdon's speech included the following declaration:
The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.—Remember it then all MEN.
Ex-Mormons and non-Mormons petitioned Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri for protection. Boggs was a pro-slavery governor who wanted to expel the Northerners. He sent a militia with documents referencing the extermination war ... the infamous "Extermination Order." The Mormons fled Missouri.
Lilburn Boggs was clearly a blow-hard. I imagine Boggs was a bit like President Donald Trump. Boggs responded to the declaration of an extermination war with a note saying: if you exterminate us; we will exterminate you back. After the Mormons had retreated to Navou, Illinois. Joseph Smith sent agents to assassinate Mr. Boggs. The assassin shot Boggs through a window. Miraculously, Boggs survived the attack. Of course, the target of an assassination attempt doesn't have to die for the assassination attempt to be wrong.
Controlling the Narrative
I love history but dislike politics. Unfortunately the history of the LDS emigration from the United States is extremely political. The LDS Church spends billions in efforts to control the narrative. The desire to control the narrative can be seen in the case of William Law.
Joseph Smith's Doctrine and Covenants introduced polygamy. Joseph Smith made passes at the wife of William Law who was First President of the Church at the time. The Laws rebuked the proposition. Joseph Smith retaliated by excommunicating Mr. Law.
William Law and other disgruntle members of the church formed a newspaper called "The Nauvoo Expositor." They intended to expose the practice of polygamy and air other grievances and accusations of abuse.
In June 1843, Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo Town Council declared the paper a public nuisance. They organized a mob of several hundred who then set out and destroyed the press.
A 174 years later, the LDS Church is still heavily invested in controlling the narrative. Propagandist organizations such as the Missionary Training Center in Provo and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers spend countless hours and millions of dollars in efforts to control the narrative.
The LDS Church owns the major newspapers in Utah. They own KSL radio and TV. They own the PBS station KBYU, the area's largest bookstore and have built seminaries next to most of the public schools in the state.
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