Monday, November 20, 2017

Mormon Genetics

Having had my DNA done turned up a genetic group of Frontier Mormons. This only means a strong connection, not any descent. It reminded me that the original Mormons were largely from the Northeast, and having traced back their own connections for religious reasons are likely to be disproportionately represented among the descendants.

Those who join new religions and head off into the desert are likely to be among the eccentric or even fringe elements of the origin group, and frontier Mormons were certainly an unusual group in their behavior. As New England and New York had already produced the widespread Unitarian heresy, they were perhaps more disposed to believe unusual things.  One would expect a selection bias for unusual behavior as well. Which Mormons did display throughout their early history and well into the 20th C.  Yet in the 1930's there was an executive decision to switch direction: to shave off the long beards, stop fighting the government and the culture at larger about multiple wives, and become in some sense hyper-American.  No culture can manage an about-face like that neatly, and there were schisms and groups which persist to this day that hold deeply to the old Mormon distinctives, even including polygamy.

But the LDS church continues to move away from its distinctives and join a more standard Christianity.  Not there yet, but it's coming into view.  They can even seem hyper-Christian in areas that mainstream denominations have abandoned. They have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, not an annual SLC Hip-Hop festival.

I wonder if it is a reassertion of the respectability and conforming genes of Puritans and Dutch Calvinists which populated the Northeast for two centuries. The two generations of converts and pioneers had more eccentricity and adventure genes than the original population, but they were still largely drawn from it and regressed back to it.


BB-Idaho said...

Early LDS converts also came from further than the NE US:
"As the Church spread through Europe, tens of thousands of new converts emigrated to America, leaving everything behind them for their faith and desire to be with fellow members. Of the 60,000 to 70,000 Saints who emigrated to the Salt Lake Valley in the late 1800s, more than 98 percent of the survivors were from Europe, and 75 percent were from Britain."
So important were these to B. Young et. al. that a couple of foreign groups were
ordered west in late summer one year. As a result many froze to death along the upper reaches of the N. Platte River.
They are considered worshipfully as trekking martyrs: information about the poor
judgement of the early leaders was surpressed for many years. Count me as one of
the many who admire the LDS emphasis on hard work and family while being puzzled by
their bizarre theology.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I had not known that. Thanks.