The introduction to this tract of the Council of Women for Home Missions, Mormonism, the Islam of America (1912), was written by the Council’s editorial committee, expressing some of the concerns of Christians about the Mormons. It compares in a general way the post-Biblical revelation to Joseph Smith with the post-Biblical revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad, both of which pose similar challenges to Christianity.
The title of this, the latest of the text-books issued by the Council of Women for Home Missions, may need a word of explanation. It is generally acknowledged that Mormonism is similar to Mohammedanism in its endorsement of the practice of polygamy, and its ideas of heaven. Many other points of similarity between these systems have been noted by students, and the Book of Mormon has marked resemblance to the Koran. As all ancient religions have a modern equivalent, Mormonism can justly be claimed to be the modern form of Mohammedanism, and not incorrectly termed “the Islam of America.”
While the subject considered in this book should be approached only in a spirit of fairness and Christian sympathy, it has become of too great importance in our national life to be omitted as a topic for careful study. It is in response to a wide-spread realization that this subject is a national problem, and bears an important relation to Home Missions, that the Council of Women presents this book.
In beginning its study, it is wise to free the mind of some misapprehension. Prominent among our national ideals are those of religious liberty for ourselves, and toleration for our neighbour’s faith. No violation of this principle is involved in a candid, just and sympathetic study of any system of religious belief.
In the Handbook of our faith Christians are exhorted to prove all doctrines in order rightly to measure their truth and test their moral standards. In this spirit this text-book has been written. Dr. Kinney is peculiarly fitted to deal with his subject, both from careful investigation, and from personal acquaintance with it in Utah.
The Mormon problem is not primarily a religious one, nor should it be so considered. The hierarchy which embodies this system has extended its influence into so many lines of our national concerns, that Mormonism has ceased to be of merely theological or religious significance. It must be studied in its relation to government and commerce; to social conditions; to its influence on state policies and even on the utterances of the press, before it can be rightly understood as a factor in our present-day nationality.
In all these connections it is presented by Dr. Kinney, and while he regards with Christian sympathy the followers of the Mormon religion, he sees, and presents clearly, the dangers inherent in the designs, ambitions and methods of the all powerful hierarchy, which absolutely controls the affairs of the church and the lives of every one of its members. The undue influence in the affairs of the nation and the councils of the government attained by this powerful body makes its beliefs and practices of national concern. Dr. Kinney’s point of view is intelligent, broad, and just. The Council of Women for Home Missions is glad to give to its readers and students a text-book so full of carefully authenticated information, and written in a spirit of such justice and charity for those deceived, indeed, but honest in their mistaken beliefs.
[From Bruce Kinney, Mormonism, The Islam of America (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912), 5-12.]