Jan 25, 2014

Mormon Money

Conversation #1

Relative (driving into my apartment complex): Do many LDS people live here?
Me: Yeah, some.
Relative (gesturing at the nicer apartments across the way): Probably more live over in these, huh?
Me: Yeah, probably.

Conversation #2

Me (talking to friend from out of state): Well going out on Sundays is always a little funny because places are filled with non-Mormons, you know?
Friend: Uh, not really. Everywhere I go everyday is filled with non-Mormons.
Me: Oh, I guess that's true. But in these parts it's only like white trash and immigrants that shop on Sundays.


I don't know if the idea extends outside of Utah or not, but there is definitely a preconception that Mormons tend to skew wealthier than the rest. I haven't seen any statistics that back the idea up, and I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't even true, but it's definitely a stereotype that I recently realized I inadvertently hold to.

Possible factors:

  • Most of the big business leaders in Utah are naturally Mormon because they're a group that's been around longer. When I think of most of the places I've worked since living here, the owner of the company is usually LDS and the peons on my level usually aren't.
  • Mitt Romney. The first two things many think of when they he's brought up are 1) Rich, 2) Mormon.
  • The emphasis on appearance in LDS culture. Especially in Utah, there seems to be a lot of pressure in the Mormon circles to always be well-dressed/well-groomed, have a clean/nice house, etc. This reads as wealthier even if it isn't necessarily actually wealthier.
  • The Book of Mormon is chock full of examples of "when you are a righteous people, you are a wealthy people". This is possibly part of why there is the emphasis on appearance. It also is possibly part of why this state is very friendly to the pursuit of wealth, both culturally and politically.
  • The nicest parts of downtown Salt Lake are church-owned. The nicest shopping center in the state (City Creek) is church-owned.
  • Emphasis on education in the church. Education statistically equals money, and there is a push in the church toward learning that goes back to the very early days. "The glory of God is intelligence" and the School of the Prophets and all that. One of the only two "good" schools in Utah is church-owned, and the other is State-of-Utah-owned, which sometimes feels like it might as well mean church-owned.
  • The way the church hierarchy and ordinance structure is set up is very goal-oriented. Always gotta get to the next level. In this way, the LDS mindset is from a very young age trained to a model that translates to the business world nicely.
  • Brigham Young. More than anyone, this guy had the vision that Utah's power would be self-reliant business: ZCMI, railroads, sending people on steel missions/cotton missions, etc. The very foundation of this state is very money-oriented, and it's the families that come from that old tradition (the Mormons) that seem the most immersed in that tradition.
Regardless, I think I'm pretty okay with moving out of this state to a place where not being LDS doesn't have a stigma that you live in a trailer park.

It would also be nice to live somewhere where living in a trailer park doesn't have a stigma that you're uneducated, dirty, and on drugs, but this is America.

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