My Baptist heritage goes back aways . . . at least 200 years. I have in possession what family members wrote in the 1800s. Also, I have stacks of The Standard, originals of the Baptist weekly newspaper coming out of Chicago. It is interesting to read what they wrote about Mormonism. As a Baptist, my great, great-grandfather attended divinity school at the University of Chicago. The first Baptist missionary, Rebecca Mitchell, came directly from a women’s Baptist training school in Chicago to Idaho Falls (then known as Eagle Rock in 1882) . The First Baptist Church in Eagle Rock erected a building in 1884. Credit goes to the determination of Rebecca Mitchell. In Salt Lake City, the building for First Baptist Church was finished in 1883. The Baptist Home Mission Monthly (July, 1883) has a drawing of it.
Let me share an excerpt of what Baptist men wrote around 120 years ago about Mormonism:
1. “Salt Lake as a Missionary Field” by Rev. D. Spencer, General Missionary (The Home Mission Monthly)
In his article, he first describes Chicago and then in parallel fashion he describes Salt Lake City in great detail as a leading center. In conclusion, he provides his emotional plea:
And what of its moral condition? Salt Lake City has a population of 25,000, and of this number, from 18,000 to 20,000 are Mormons. Of course so great a preponderance in point of numbers gives to the Mormon Church a growing influence. Everything large and grand is Mormon. The large banks, stores, school and Sunday congregations are Mormon. Mormons make the laws, collect the taxes, try the criminals, and manage the schools. And what is this Mormon power? Are its heart-beats in sympathy with our institutions? Are its teachings and practices in keeping with American ideas? No, it is a despotism in the heart of a republic, a hierarchy in the midst of a free church, and a form of Oriental barbarism in the lap of Christian civilization. Organized upon falsehood, its columns filled from the ranks of ignorance and superstition, and led on by artful and cunning priests, and tolerates practices worthy of Tartars and Turks. And what have Baptists done towards curing this evil? Almost nothing! A few months ago a little handful of Baptists were gathered, and a mission established. But we are compelled to worship in a hall over a blacksmith shop; and instead of a score of workers, we have only one. Surely not much can be expected from a mission so feebly sustained. Our views of the ordinances fit us in a remarkable manner for work among this people, multitudes of whom, though terribly deluded, are very sincere and honest. An officer in the Mormon Church called on me some time ago and inquired relative of our views. After a lengthy conversation he assented to nearly all that I said, and has regularly attended our service since. Now will not Baptists all over the country arise and put the mission in Salt Lake City upon a footing where it can successfully cope with this evil? We need ten thousand dollars at once to build a good Church edifice. Who will be first to subscribe towards this amount.