Joseph Smith was clearly a second rate con man, and from Brigham Young right up to today, the Mormon Church depends on delivering sometimes harsh disciplinary actions for those that don't comply with the elders' demands. But living in a Mormon neighborhood in a Mormon town these past 10+ years, I have developed a very healthy respect for the church's culture. They take care of each other. They are the best, most considerate, dependable neighbors I've ever had anywhere I've lived (and I've lived in a lot of places). I've even come to understand their political views. To first order, all Mormons are small government Republicans. I've worked the polls in these precincts and I can tell you that a Democrat Mormon is very uncommon. They don't support aid to the poor because they do that through the church. . . and they don't just say the church does that. They really do that through the church. It's not lip service. They don't support welfare or unemployment benefits for the same reason. Disability? Education? . . . Their view is that the church should be doing that - taking care of each other. And they are mostly extremely good parents with very polite and respectful children who work hard and do well.The church itself is run by a very small number of male officers, but the marching orders for the flock seem more like they come from a Communist governing manual. They have a history of sharing the wealth for the greater good of the community. And while they may want the government out of their lives, the church seems to me to be far more intrusive than any government we've ever had in the US.
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