As I am reading The Standard (the first American Baptist weekly, established in 1853, out of Chicago), I am deeply caught up in the historical tension between Baptists and Mormons back in 1899.
In May 1899, the great American Baptist Convention will be having its first anniversary celebration on the Pacific Coast in San Francisco. For the train ride from Chicago to San Francisco, there will be a stopover in Salt Lake City to worship in evangelical churches on Sunday, May 21, 1899.
The Baptist papers have been talking about Mormons.
The Standard, March 11, 1899 . . .
It is said by Dr. Josiah Strong, in his leaflet on “Political Aspects of Mormonism,” published by the League for Social Service, that at the beginning of 1897 the Mormons were one-half as numerous as the Congregationalists; and that during that year the Mormon church gained 63,000 in membership, or more than the evangelical denominations put together. This startling fact is accounted for by the 1,700 Mormon missionaries doing house-to-house work all over the United States. The whole Rocky Mountain district is systematically worked, and persons who are in a position to know say that not only Utah but three for four other states are already practically in the political control of Mormon voters. What are we going to do about it?
The Standard, April 1, 1899
The Utah Question: A New Movement by Rev. J.D. Nutting
The Utah question is easily one of the most urgent now before the American people. Mormonism is no half-way system. It’s priesthood, claims and aims at universal sway, and this alike in matters domestic, social, financial, civil and religious. Should it triumph, as it prophesies, the world would go backward into heathenism again, with all that the word implies–for heathenism the system is if ever there was such. And it is now striving mightily for this end, with 1,700 emissaries in the field deceptively proselyting from house to house at little cost to the system, it claims to have done a little greater work in defiling doctrinal thought, claiming to have made 63,000 converts last year. We may call it fanaticism, truly; but Mohammedan fanaticism to-day rules 200,000,000 human souls, and Mormonism is American Mohammedanism.
The head and front of this evil is in Utah. To cope with this great and fortified foe and to snatch precious souls from its satanic grasp, there are in Utah about eighty churches (perhaps nine self-supporting) and a few mission schools; both reaching only seventy out of 311 post-office places. They have done a tremendous work, and the hope for the future must always be the church of Christ. But it has become clear that there is a critical and important work upon which the whole solution of the problem seems to depend, which they cannot even attempt. The plans for this work have been most carefully and prayerfully matured, and are endorsed by the most studious and experienced men regarding this question, wherever they have been presented.
The new work will require strong, consecrated men, and some money to support them. The latter is the greatest difficulty, and the one to be solved first. How can it be done? The new Utah work is critically urgent at the present hour. But it asks no gifts which are not extra to the individual’s usual offerings to needy missionary channels. But it does very earnestly ask of every soul the following: That he study over his finances, and ask the Lord to be shown whether he cannot rightly economize somewhere, if necessary, to give to this work. Send gifts to this new work to H. Clark Ford, treasurer Utah Gospel Mission, New England Building, Cleveland, O.; for further information, literature, (10 cents) addresses, etc., send to the writer, at 775 Logan Ave., Cleveland. As the work is urgent and the season advanced, it is especially desirable that responses should be sent as early as possible. Cleveland, Ohio.
Hmm . . . I wonder what the Salt Lake City papers were saying during May 21, 1899. Would any LDS historical buff have a link? It would be interesting to hear what the LDS were saying about the Baptists in May of 1899.