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Yet they still freaked out their neighbors. The Mormons had their own religious courts, which were akin to the Muslim's Sharia law, only creepier because everyone was dressed like the cast of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Plus, they believed in magic underwear, which contained super-celestial powers that allowed them to become kings or queens in Heaven.
Sadly, this was a darker time in America, when people were less tolerant of underwear fetishists than they are today. Smith was arrested for being a degenerate. And when the Christians once again asked, "What Would Jesus Do?" Jesus mentioned that it might be good to storm the jail and kill Smith's ass. So they did.
Did he get 72 virgins for being a martyr?
No, but a very nice bundt cake was served at his Going Away to Heaven Party.
The problem was that God had forgotten to appoint Smith's successor. So his followers became prophets of their own. Their revelations told them to excommunicate, poison and assassinate their rivals. Some encountered an even more tragic fate: They were forced to move to Pittsburgh.
In the end, Brigham Young arranged for the church to be run by 12 disciples—with him being the most disciplistic of all.
But isn't Brigham Young a football team?
No. It's actually a college that saw fleeting fame after discovering that Samoans were good at football. Then the Samoans realized that Mormons don't drink, which meant that dorm parties were totally lame. They then all transferred to USC.
So how did that whole Occupy Utah thing come about?
We're getting to that. Young and his henchmen decided to move to a place so shitty no one else would go there. That would be Utah. Mormons migrated en masse, hoping to let their freak flag fly without anyone setting them on fire.
But prospectors heading for the California Gold Rush reported that they were creating their own polygamous kingdom, which was seen as treasonous. Eastern Christians bagged on President James Buchanan for letting wild sex orgies take place, since they hadn't been invited. So Buchanan dispatched the army to see what was up with that.
Is that when the Mormons went terrorist?
Yes. By 1857, they'd grown tired of the Old Burn Down Our House & Drive Us Out of Town Gag. So they took the offensive, torching army forts and setting fires to keep Buchanan's troops from reaching Utah.
They also indiscriminately robbed and murdered settlers. At one point, they killed 120 unarmed men, women and children during the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre. For reasons unknown, this is no longer taught in Sunday schools.
Yet Buchanan was in no mood to start a war in Utah. The feds were soon to battle the South, and there were tons of Indians that still required slaughtering. Thus was born a strategy of armed engagement that still lives today: It always sucks to have more than two wars going at once. The feds and the Mormons reached a truce.
So Buchanan just let terrorists hold wild sex orgies?
Yes, except for the wild part. Think of a porn film starring ZZ Top and Ukrainian babushka ladies. It wasn't that interesting.
So when did they stop going perv?
In 1890. Still worried that the feds might attack, God told them to lose the polygamy thing. They decided instead to become the most tight-assed people in America. You couldn't even get into church if you smoked cigs, pounded brewskies or used caffeine.
They can't drink coffee?
No. That means if Mitt Romney becomes president, the government will only be open from noon to 5 p.m., and he'll be really crabby if Pakistan starts a nuclear war during Good Morning America.
But wouldn't our country suck if it was just like Utah?
Yes. Think of it as the white Saudi Arabia, only with better skiing. Have you ever tried buying a shot of whiskey in Salt Lake City? It's like fishing for lobster in a parking garage.
I heard Mormons don't like black people.
They didn't—past tense. Until 1978, Mormons wouldn't let blacks into Heaven. But this created problems. Young Mormons are required to do two years of unpaid missionary work. When they went door-to-door in Detroit, they encountered uncomfortably long silences, since they could only talk about the weather.
So church elders had a revelation to let black people in. They may have been 10 years behind southern Christians in their racial policies, yet they were totally pumped to beat South Africa and avoid finishing last in their division.
Okay, what about gay people?
Their longtime marketing strategy may have been based on sanctified swinging, but they don't swing that way. In fact, Mormons donated millions of dollars in 2008 to support California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Of course, a federal judge ruled that all the magic-underwear money in the world doesn't make something constitutional. (That ruling is still on hold pending appeal.)
But aren't Mormons a bunch of damn socialists?
Yes and no. Joseph Smith prophesied of building a New Jerusalem in Jackson County. To make it happen, he urged followers to give up all their property for equal redistribution.