Friday, August 14, 2015

Mormon Church as Typical American Settlers

Vox has a piece explaining that Ben Carson's proposal for a tax system based on tithing was tried by the Mormon church in the 19th century.  I was struck by this quote in the article:
"Essentially, the church was the government of Utah, for all practical purposes, for quite a few decades," says John Turner, a historian at George Mason University and the author of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. "So there was an expectation that one would pay 10 percent of one's income as taxes."
 There's an echo there of the experience of some of my ancestors.  They moved from York county, PA to Ontario county, NY in the early 1800's.  There they joined the Presbyterian church at Stanley, NY.  Based on a history of the church, and reading some of its records, the church fulfilled a lot of the governmental functions in the early years: determining when members were bad and their punishment and providing education for the children.  While American historians know that churches were integral to the founding of New England, I think they often miss how important churches were in creating new communities as the frontier moved west.

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