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Posted 19 Nov 2001   For week ended October 26, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 24Oct01

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 syndrome.

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

See also:
Missionaries at World Trade Center Rumor Not True


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