I am not suggesting that the Mormon church is in any way on the same low level as the horrible North Korean regime.
Unlike North Korea, the Mormon church teaches love, and Christ-like virtues. However, like North Korea, they teach conformity, moral standards, work ethic, happy countenance, etc., while they supress information about their history, seek control over their members and have a very low tolerance and acceptance level for those who try to leave.
I would like to point out some parallels between the LDS Mormons and North Korea for people to think about. This comparison may seem over the top, but try to open your mind a little to see where I am coming from.
I will quote from the book, The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan. This book was written by a North Korean defector. I have exchanged the words of North Korean leaders with LDS leaders/prophet and I replaced Communism with Mormonism or the LDS church in brackets so you can see the comparison. All replaced or added words are in brackets.
[The LDS church] is always looking for new [converts] especially those who can help its image. They need individuals with knowledge and abilities. [The missionaries] wooed with an equal measure of ideological arguments and fantastical promises. p. 18-19
Thus was determined the fate of my family, and mine with it.
A terrible struggle took place inside of my uncle. On one side was his love for his parents and his wish to obey them, on the other, his attachment to his current life he was leading [before joining]. My uncle put up a good fight, but winning ultimately would have entailed breaking with his parents, something he was not ready to do [and so he joined]…. p. 22-23
The story of my family and of all those who leapt so confidently into [Mormonism]- mostly demonstrates the force of human illusion and its awesome power to render us utterly blind. I have since learned that at other times, [some religions] have created similar traps for making people believe and hope in illusions. The bottom of which they would find isolation, and poverty.
(Commentary: Many LDS members discover this poverty due to the following LDS formula – get married young, don’t put off kids, have lots of kids, stay-at-home, pay 10% of your income to the church for more church buildings/temples/BYU, etc. If they are a convert they may feel severe isolation from family and friends who are in a different faith or if they grew up in the church and then become disillusioned with Mormonism they can experience severe isolation from believing family and friends). Back to the book:
“We were wearing rose-colored glasses when we arrived. Our faith in our new life was anchored deep… grim warnings couldn’t touch us. pg. 26
“In my youth….I lived some happy years, under the guardian eye of [Mormonism]…..[The prophet]…seemed eternally… omniscient to me…He was like a god to us… posters, our textbooks, our teachers; everyone and everything seemed to confirm this. To my childish eyes and to those of all my friends, [the prophets] were perfect beings, untarnished by any base human function.”
“The name of the grammar school I attended was _______ , and [the prophet] once honored it with a visit – a truly exceptional event…”
“To help initiate us into [the LDS doctrine] we were given awards at [Sunday] school. In the curriculum, training the [church’s] little soldiers was given first priority….Above all we were taught about the morals of [Mormonism] and the [biased half-truth glowing early church] history….I thought cramming myself with these important facts was perfectly normal, and doing it gave me great pleasure. An education of this sort resulted in a well-spring of admiration and gratitude for our [church] leaders and in the willingness to sacrifice everything for them and the [church]”. p. 3-5
[The LDS church] showed a…knack for creating associations…There were women’s associations,…culture…sports clubs, and various other groups which [the church] could influence from the shadows. pg. 16
We had a fear of speaking our mind [about anything against the church or leaders]. Grandmother, on the other hand…stalwartly countered the criticisms indirectly aimed at [the church]. [LDS] ideology had supplied her with an inexhaustible supply of ready-made retorts, which she never hesitated to unleash upon her children: “What impatience! Have you no confidence in the awesome [prophet] we are so privileged to follow?” Her kids shrugged their shoulders.” pg. 30
“Growing up I was never aware of my uncles’ disaffection with [the church]: I was too young to imagine such a thing was possible.” p. 32
“Eventually we were branded [an unworthy family] because we were contaminated by our [unbelieving family members]. Contaminated by the [unbelief] of [the family member] in our midst.” pg. 41
(Commentary: I have seen it often when a LDS family is well received and accepted until they start having family members who leave or rebel. Then it seems the whole family is the subject of gossip and is contaminated by the few family rebels.)
“[The church leaders] good cheer was intended to preserve the utopian myth.” pg. 45
“Some of the [targets of gossip] were just petty criminals: [members] who missed an official [meeting or fireside], exhibited want of enthusiasm for [the prophet or church leaders], or lacked requisite zeal in their denunciation of [unbelievers or apostates].”p. 52
“At …conference.. our [prophet] stated that our youth must always be the most [righteous/responsible] in the world, in terms of both work and study. But instead of heeding the wise reflections of our [prophet] I twice arrived late. I alone was responsible for this tardiness… From now on, I will wake up a half hour earlier and make myself equal to the task… I will renew myself and become a faithful warrior for the [LDS church].” p.129
“We dreaded the long [youth meetings/activities] that shortened our nights needlessly. They were too much of a sham to ever take seriously, but that’s not the way [the church] saw it. They were always reminding us the [church] alone [isn’t enough]. (You need control). What they meant was ideological control, and maintaining it was in part our responsibility. Hence, on arriving at adulthood, we were given three notebooks in which to trace the development of our [spiritual] healing: [LDS church scripture and doctrines], [The church’s version of church history], and the Life Assessment Notebook [or Gospel in Action]. All three accompanied us so we could jot down the lessons learned.”
“To help advance our edification and education, we also attended [youth firesides] to deepen our understanding of the life and thoughts of [our church leaders]. The curriculum consisted largely of listening to articles read out loud from [conference talks or the Ensign] of which articles arrived [monthly].” pg. 130
“…Every year, we had the privilege of having [the prophet’s] address read to us. The speech was the focal point of an event…. My memory of these speeches has blurred somewhat, but I remember that they always started with an account of the previous year’s accomplishments and ended with a list of goals for the future. Somewhere in the middle came a nod to [the church members/leaders in other countries] who were continuing to lead a courageous battle in the heart of [the mission field].” p. 132-3
“I remember a film about a man named [Christopher], who joins [a bad crowd]. There isn’t a [Mormon] kid anywhere who hadn’t seen the movie at least a dozen times and knew every word by heart. In the movie…[Christopher] meets the [Mormon leaders/missionaries] and sees the light, and is transfigured into a true [Saint]. He then sings a lament about the humiliations he suffered at the hands of [the bad crowd].” p. 134
” Like every [LDS church] educational institution [visitor center], there was a room dedicated to the study of [Joseph Smith]. On one wall hung a huge portrait of the Great [Prophet], and everywhere you looked were photos illustrating the different stages in his heroic life.” p. 134
” A few years of [living the results of Mormonism: poor, caretaker of lots of young children, husband always gone serving the church and working to support a large, young family, my own burdensome church responsibilities, isolated from extended family as well as catching bits and pieces about Joseph Smith’s infidelities, temper and deception, etc.] cured me of my faith…. My[immediate family] and I were the wayward sheep of the [restoration], and the [church’s] way of bringing us back into the fold was to [gossip about us]. The propaganda, which exalted [the church] as the people’s corner of paradise, now struck me as revolting. p. 136
[Gullible, sensitive, push over] as I was, I was lucky to get out. Yet the harsh living conditions and never-ending work were precisely what saved me. My every minute was accounted for. There were lessons to follow [diapers, kids, house, husband, callings, bills, cooking, shopping, visiting, transporting, anger, depression, not feeling good enough, etc.] My life was absorbed entirely in my efforts to get by and obey. I was fortunately, able to accept my condition as fated. A clear-eyed view of the hell I had landed in certainly would have thrown me deeper into despair. There is nothing like thought to deepen one’s gloom. Yet I wasn’t always able to repel the feeling of misfortune. Pg. 152.
[Despite my lack of faith] I could have continued with [Mormonism] in relative peace had I not [stumbled upon the following books: Mormon America, Emma Hale Smith: Mormon Enigma, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith and the following website: www.mormonthink.com and this documentary]. I was dying to tell people the news. Back then, few [LDS members] dared [read these books or listen to this information even though it was well-documented and truthful]. Many more do now. p. 184-5
We liked listening to or [reading about tolerant/accepting faiths]…The messages of love and respect for one’s fellow-man was sweet as honey to us. It was so different from what we were used to hearing. In [the LDS church], the [church] run radio and television, newspapers, teachers, and [publications] only tried to fill us with [negative judgements/opinions] – for [those not stepping in line]…We hungered for a discourse to break the monopoly of lies. In [the LDS church] all reality is filtered through a single mind-set. Listening [and reading] gave us the words we needed to express our dissatisfaction. Each new discovery helped us tear a little freer from the enveloping web of deception [church history]. Knowledge that there was a counterpoint of official reality was already a kind of escape, one that could exhilarate as well as confuse. It is difficult to explain, for example, the emotions we felt on hearing it demonstrated, proof positive, that [Joseph Smith had actually forged the Book of Abraham], not [translated it], as we had always been told.
[The Internet] made it possible for us to sharpen our criticism of [the LDS church]. We had long been aware of its shortcomings, from repression [of valid church history], to its ravishment of the [members] work ethic to its obscene wastefulness, most apparent in its [elaborate temples, BYU, church buildings/mall, esp. in Utah, illegally fighting gay marriage, etc. when people are starving and suffering around the world]. What we lacked- what the [Internet] provided us-were the connective elements we needed to tie it all together. The [Internet] furnished us with an overview of the system as a whole: its origins, the reasons behind its current difficulties, the absurdity of its official boasting….I think my [family] and I were proud to be in the know. I wanted very much to tell [others] about what I had discovered, but I didn’t dare…p. 186
[Leaving the church seemed] like a paradise, and I began to sense the huge gulf separating the universe as I knew it and the world as it might actually be. p. 198. On one side [the LDS church], “calm as hell” as we say here, and on the other, the loud, luminous paradise….A feeling of great joy suddenly swept over me, a sentiment akin to hope. Here was life… I felt as though I wanted to throw my arms around it, to embrace it… pg. 199
I was [also] scared….I sat down feeling very timid and ill at ease….The behavior of [our new non-Mormon] friends was both fascinating and shocking…I was jarred by their [behavior]. [Leaving the LDS church] wasn’t enough to flush out the propaganda seeped into us over so many years. I began to wonder whether the [LDS] authorities weren’t justified in fearing [the non-Mormon] influence. But I think what scared me was the prospect of enjoying life. The ideas to which I had sworn allegiance since youth- work, discipline, devotion to the [LDS church and its Prophets]- were making their last stand. p. 202
[We started to feel] worried and tense as ever. We were all alone [with no map or direction]. We now had the impression of truly being in another world. The large teeming [world] intimidated us. We felt as if we’d crossed some other, invisible border. I was getting the jitters. I felt abandoned in an immense world, an orphan for all time. p. 204
What struck me, however, was the way people led their lives. Everyone seemed free to do as they wished. No system organized their movements and activities. I have to admit that it rather worried me at first. This sort of society just couldn’t last; it could never face a crisis. I later realized that this only seemed like disorder. A pervading logic governed people’s interactions. Though the principle of everybody for himself reigned supreme, people here appeared honest; they thought about others and shared common values….I eventually became enamored of [my new world] with its millions of inhabitants, its forest of modern skyscrapers, its dense traffic, its bustling life and nocturnal energy. p. 223
Here is a quote from a forum with the subject: North Korea.. (by robinidaho) “I was listening to a piece on NPR yesterday about some reporters that went to North Korea to do a story. They were escorted everywhere… The people they were allowed to talk to said things like: “I know Kim Jong Il runs the world.” “He is the true leader.” etc. I was struck at how similar this sounded like Mormons in testimony meeting….
Here is a sarcastic quote from a forum with the subject: N. Koreans and Mormons seek Internet control : “Mormon sanctioned websites would always be perfectly alright to get the truth about their own organization because it’s a totally honest church and therefore a perfectly reliable uncorrupted source of information. Maybe North Korea could learn a thing or two from the unusually righteous abilities of the LDS Mormons to manipulate and deceive the very best!” See some evidence here and here.
Here is an online quote concerning Mormon Fundamentalists (which is also Joseph Smith’s legacy- you will know them by their fruits) “Polygamist Mormon churches are America’s North Korea “Isolated, starving and the family of escapees get shot”.
When I saw a youtube video about the birthday celebration for the N. Korean leader, I couldn’t help but compare it to the 2005 celebration for Joseph Smith on his 200th birthday. You can read about it here. It was a huge extravaganza in praise of a leader that should not be praised. Read here and here .
This video reminds me of primary- learning about Joseph Smith.
The LDS church’s beliefs are full of mythological stories surrounding Joseph Smith (visions, angels, humble, heroic, etc.). On top of that members pass around new mythological stories all the time ( see here and here ). This parallels the mythological stories that surround the former and current N. Korean leaders ( see here) . These figures are deified somewhat by this mythology. Speaking ill of these leaders is never okay among the followers.
The intricate images Song Byeok produced were dictated to him by North Korean officials. Song was handed a sketch, always of people happy and smiling, which the young artist dutifully brought to life with brush and paint.
“You had to do exactly what they wanted,” he recalled. I never questioned the work. At the time, I was completely brainwashed.” -Song Byeok a North Korean defector