This posting is about the church my family belonged to – which for my parents, was their whole life. It is no longer – although the rest of my family still believe it it – and deny (strenuously) that it has departed. Like most religious people – they are incapable of thinking about their religion.
The Church was originally the RLDS church – named that way to distinguish it from the LDS church. The LDS church, commonly called the Mormons, were followers of Joseph Smith. But when he was killed by a mob in 1844, in Illinois – his control of the church was abruptly ended. Eventually many of his followers – but far from most of them – followed Brigham Young to Utah.
Many stayed in the Midwest, but still wanted to keep Joseph’s church. They reorganized as the RLDS church – and looked for a leader. The obvious choice was his oldest son, Joseph Smith III – who was only a small boy when his father was killed – and barely knew him. At first, he was not interested – but after failing at a number of pursuits, he decided that having a church of his own was not such a bad idea. And he agreed to become the President of the RLDS church.
The Church grew rapidly at first, as it sent out many missionaries. Especially in Nova Scotia (where my Mother’s family was converted) and in Australia. But eventually, after Joseph Smith III died – church membership leveled off. How much it leveled off, the Church will not now reveal – but I can remember as a child in the Forties – that this was indeed the case. Belief in the Church was a strong as ever – but it was losing its strength. People were leaving it all the time – and it could not understand why.
The Church had to do something, so it went through a change. I knew nothing about this change – since I had left the Church long before. The net exterior result was a name change – it now called itself the Community of Christ. What other changes were made, I have no idea – and no one is eager to explain them to me. My siblings seem content with the result – but their children are not interested in it at all.
My family are not interest in my explanation of why the Church failed. So I am recording them here – in my blog instead.
As I see it, fundamental changes occurred in America after WWII – and during the strong economy that followed it. America became a nation of Corporations. Before, the Church prided itself in not being part of the World – the Puritan ethic. This attitude was no longer tolerated – and conformity was strongly enforced.
The Utah Mormons had long since become part of the Corporate Ethic – a successful part, in fact. And the poor little Community of Christ was left in the dust.