North Korea and Mormonism – 2006
Last week Kirk and I took a rare opportunity to sit and watch television one night last week. About the only thing that remotely appealed to us was a documentary that Diane Sawyer did on North Korea so that’s where we parked the channel. We haphazardly listened while talking about the day’s events that we’d forgotten to share with each other when we both turned to the television at the same time and said; “Hey she’s talking about a cult”!
What we had heard her say was that everyone had the same look on their face. She was doing an expose` on the condition of communist North Korea. The apartment buildings they took her to see were nothing but a hollow mess inside. Water and electricity are not trustworthy if and when they run at all. They have refrigerators but little to no food inside.
In North Korea over one million people have died from malnutrition, yet the military personnel are always fed first. In Pyongyang, the model city, she found no one who would speak out against the dictator Kim Jong Il. People have to receive permission to leave the city and the people tend to be 4” shorter than their counterparts in South Korea. Everyone dresses identically and there wasn’t an animal to be found anywhere near where they stayed or visited. When and if the South Koreans come to site-see the North Koreans are not allowed to speak to them or ask questions.
Pictures of leaders were posted throughout the city as the news group traveled around and one meal they bought at a restaurant was equivalent to one month’s salary for a North Korean. One item of interest that really caught my attention was when she visited a local school in Pyongyang.
The children had been taught to hate America and Americans. She handed them a copy of “Us” Magazine and had them pass it around to get their opinions of what they saw. She said; “They were passing it around like it was a poisonous snake”. When she asked them what their favorite western song was they began singing “Doe a deer, a female deer” in unison from the Sound of Music. Their favorite movies are Toy Story and Shrek. They were surprised to learn they were American made movies. That simple truth had been held back from the “congregation”.
No cell phones are permitted in North Korea so obviously the internet is out of the question as well. Diane Sawyer remarked on several occasions how closed the society was there and much more so than any other communist country she had visited in the past. It was a fascinating look inside a closed society. And it instantly reminded me of my travels while living in Europe.
I’ve mentioned before that Kirk and I lived in Germany while he was stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base, just southwest of Frankfurt. On two occasions we had the opportunity to visit East Berlin; once in 1986 and again in 1987. Kirk and I traveled a lot in the three years we lived overseas. I was a tour guide for two of those years and if we weren’t working, we were site-seeing. In those short three years we put over 100,000 miles on our car!
With that being said, communist East Berlin was the only place I felt the same way I had always felt in Utah. Back then I didn’t understand it, but after God saved me I realized what that “feeling” was. A familiar spirit hung in the air of East Berlin just as it does today in Utah. The people of communist East Berlin had sunken eyes that held no signs of life. Every time I tried to make eye contact with anyone they would look down and instantly seem nervous. No advertisements or flags of any kind hung on street lights or the sides of buildings. The only thing we ever saw on the side of a building was cameras and the sign of the Hammer and Sickle, which signified it, was the property of the U.S.S.R. – communist Russia.
The apartment buildings in East Berlin were just as they are in Pyongyang and the people there also had to ask permission to leave the city. If you were old enough to be retired you could apply for permission to visit relatives in West Germany or West Berlin, but only if you had been separated from them at the end of World War II. The opportunity had other strings attached as well. You could only travel for a visit every 24 months and your visit could not last more than a few weeks at a time.
I realize Utahans obviously have permission to leave the state and travel wherever they choose because of our society. However, the control that the leaders exude over the people and their reaction to it is eerily similar. When I first got out of Mormonism I kept hearing Utah being referred to as the “Zion Curtain”. That phrase didn’t click for me in the beginning, but as the Lord began clearing the fog from my brain it finally dawned on me what that meant and what that feeling represented when I visited East Berlin.
One of the most common similarities I noticed between Utah and the two communist countries is the understanding of language. Diane Sawyer said; “When asked [students] in English class what the word democracy meant, their only answer was “the noun that goes with democrat”.” Wow.
It is also interesting to note how Satan can’t come up with anything new. He just recycles the same old garbage over and over again. The only difference is that the garbage has a pretty new bow tied around it as he hands the gift of lies over to mankind.
In North Korea, no outside information is allowed to infiltrate the media. There are three government-run television stations which all laud the fame and wonderment of their dear leader and that is what carried in the tone of everyone’s voices as she traveled around the city and asked questions.
When I got out of Mormonism I began recalling experiences I had as a Mormon. One time while at work at my office, my boss asked me if I’d be interested in helping out with the military tours. I jumped at the chance and began training. One of the tours I led was for the in-processing stage of military bases in the Kaiserslautern area. The military had contracted out to the USO for their members to go through a two day lesson of the local area. The first day of their seminar was spent in class as I taught basic German, how to ride the trains in Europe, how to use phones, order food, how to get a driver’s license, basics of the customs, laws, etc. The next day I would take them on the economy via buses and trains for hands on training. It was a cool job!
One of the places I would have to take them to would be the church in their local city or town. In two of these towns were churches that had the blessing of having copies of the 95 point thesis posted on their doors written by Martin Luther.
After going on a few tours with my supervisor I was let loose on my own after she had seen I could manage on my own. I assured her I had no problems but one. I said that I understood everything and wrote down all that she shared with the groups. I told her I could keep that script memorized, but I was “curious to find out who Martin Luther was and why did some people cry or have tears in their eyes when we visited those particular churches”?
I’ll never forget the look on that woman’s face. She looked more confused than I felt right then! She asked me, “I thought you said you were a Christian”? I assured her I was most certainly a Christian, but had never heard of Martin Luther.
Same words, same language, different meanings, different results. Sound familiar?
Mormons use the same words with the same language the Christian community uses. For instance just one example would be salvation. Another would be the meaning of Christian. Roughly ninety-nine percent of the time, Christian churches use a cross to symbolize their faith. Not so with the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses, etc.
Mormonism (other “isms” as well) is the only “Christian” faith that denounces the body of Christ. I have repeatedly spoken about the hatred and animosity the LDS doctrines propagate against the real Christians.
The reaction North Korean students portrayed towards the “Us” magazine reminds me of what the LDS prophet Joseph Fielding Smith is quoted as saying about members of the Church and the cross. In Answers To Gospel Questions, 4:17 when asked by a convert of the Church why they didn’t use the cross as a symbol of their faith he replied;
“While we have never questioned the sincerity of Catholics and Protestants for wearing the cross, or felt that they were doing something which was wrong, it is a custom that has never appealed to members of the Church. The motive for such a custom by those who are of other churches, we must conclude, is a most sincere and sacred gesture. To them the cross does not represent an emblem of torture but evidently carried the impression of sacrifice and suffering endured by the Son of God. However, to bow down before a cross or to look upon it as an emblem to be revered because of the fact that our Savior died upon a cross is repugnant to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
To start off with, he has lied to the convert. The entire reason for a restoration was because Joseph Smith, Jr. claimed that God told him all the churches of the world were wrong and the whore of Babylon. See Joseph Smith’s Testimony.
Secondly, I don’t know of any Christians who bow down to worship the cross in and of itself. I do believe that it is highly over used, but not by the Christians! Today in the secular world it is worn as a “fashion statement”, but that has nothing to do with the tradition of identifying ourselves with Christ.
Repugnant? The cross is repugnant to the Latter-day Saint who calls themselves Christian? Why? What is repugnant is the sin that had to be placed upon the sinless Man whose only desire was to have His people with Him for eternity! The official meaning of repugnant is: distasteful, objectionable, or offensive when used as an adjective. (www.dictionary.com) In the American Heritage Dictionary it says; “arousing disgust or aversion; offensive or repulsive.” I noticed that in the original form of Old French and/or Latin the word means “to fight against”.
After I got saved I was floored to discover the verse 1 Cor. 1:18; “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Foolishness is what God thinks of their message. This word, foolishness in the Greek means “absurdity, silliness, impious, or godless”. Can you just imagine God saying that about your idea?
In Utah there are more crosses now than there were twenty years ago, however more times than not you’ll only see a statue of Moroni or a steeple that protrudes to the skies.
While all residents of Utah are allowed to travel throughout the land, members of the LDS Church are highly discouraged from entering any Christian bookstore or Christian churches. My question is why would any Christian not be allowed to go into another Christian church? And why would it be discouraged to not read about the original Christian church?
The other similarities between communism and Mormonism are blatant as well. The people of North Korea give all their adoration to their dear leader. The LDS hymns “Praise to the Man” (meaning Joseph Smith), “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet” and bearing testimony to knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, is the same thing the prisoners of North Korea are suffering through.
The “magazine incident” also reminds me of not only the reaction to the cross, but to the Bible as well. The eighth Article of Faith says; “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” Notice how the only “safe” books or writings to read and trust in are the Church sanctioned books and how the North Koreans aren’t allowed to use cell phones or the internet.
We are continually in prayer for the people in Utah as well as Mormonism and trust our God and Savior will deliver these people from the grips of this dictator-like false religion! The arm of God is Mighty as the word proclaims in Isaiah 60:4 so this is where we lay our faith.
With Love in Christ; Michelle Grim
1 Cor. 1:18
To read the entire encounter Diane Sawyer experienced in North Korea see: