By Rosemary Pollock
Academic Explains Why Rumors Show Mormons Protected from Harm
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Amid false rumors and widely-circulated
e-mails, claiming divine intervention among Mormon missionaries and
BYU interns, Mary Ellen Robertson delivered a speech at the Sixth
Annual Religious Studies Conference at Utah Valley State College in
Provo claiming that some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints are exhibiting the "Chosen People Syndrome." An
expert on violence in Mormon history and scripture, Robertson sees a
traditional longing for uniqueness along with an ecclesiastical
mandate to be "in the world but not of the world," which leads to the
Robertson presented her paper, "Still Circling the Wagons: Violence
and Mormon's Self Image," during a two-day conference that included
discussion on women and religious violence in America. "If I believe
the Mormons are a chosen people and that God will protect his chosen
people from meeting a tragic end, naturally I will create and tell
stories that reinforce those beliefs," she said.
Recent stories of New York missionaries who were part of three or
four zones of missionaries that were supposed to meet in the World
Trade Center on September 11, at 9:00 a.m. for a multi-zone
conference were untrue, despite the message claiming, "every single
missionary had problems that morning getting to the meeting, either
not waking up on time, or with transportation. No one made it to the
towers." In truth, neither mission held a zone conference that day,
nor did the missionaries meet. "It is a nice story, but unfortunately
it is not true," said Sister Money of the New York NY South mission.
Another e-mail was circulated about 40 BYU interns who worked in the
World Trade Center and had all contracted food poisoning and were
unable to get to work on Tuesday, September 11. BYU's Washington
Seminar director, Scott Dunaway, said, "The rumors are all false."
But Charlotte Monson one of the seminar's administrators does confirm
that 17 interns in the Washington, DC program who worked in a
building across the street from the Pentagon, did have the flu on
Tuesday. "The flu was going around the program earlier in the week
and several woke up sick Tuesday morning," Monson said. "It made it
easier for us to reach them and they did not have to worry about
fighting the traffic downtown."
"Perhaps Mormons fear losing the self-image they have constructed,
losing the point of view that makes them feel special," Robertson
said. Robertson, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, said she believes some members believe themselves
to be "more blessed, more special, more correct, more protected, more
righteous and more worthy of God's favor than anyone else."
Often Latter-day Saints "seem to anticipate mistreatment from their
non-Mormon peers" and are particularly sensitive to criticism from
outside the church. She offered her own story of being told she must
rewrite her master's thesis while attending graduate school outside
of Utah, and having her family react that her adviser "had to be
anti-Mormon to make that request."
Some Mormons Suffer From 'Chosen People Syndrome'
Salt Lake Tribune 20Oct01 N6
By Jeff Oliver: Salt Lake Tribune
Does history still mold LDS Church?
Deseret News 20Oct01 N6
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor
Missionaries at World Trade Center Rumor Not True