Mormons are clearly not evangelical Christians. And there are 11 million of them. They run the "biggest and best" gun shows nationwide. They tend to vote Republican. And their church is rich, because it asks its members to tithe 10% of their annual income.
"The Mormon Church is leaning more toward Christianity," says anthropologist and "Mormon sceptic" Tom Murphy at Edmonds College, Washington state. But as long as the religion includes Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon, Murphy says it cannot be considered Christian.
Smith started the Mormon religion. The Book of Mormon is based on a "translation" of golden tablets he said he found in upstate New York in the 1800s following visitation from an angel named Moroni. It describes a migration of ancient Israelites (Laminites) to Central America, who supposedly interbred with the indigenous population, and it regards Native Americans as descendants of those ancient Israelites.
Mormon scripture has been under intense scrutiny in recent years in the Financial Times (my 2/9/2002 story "Mormons in the Olympic spotlight"), from author Jon Krakaeur in his book Under The Banner of Heaven, from Tom Murphy and others.
Murphy's challenge regarding Smith's Book of Mormon as a history of Native Americans led to an LDS attempt to excommunicate him, but the church eventually backed down under pressure from the media.
British researchers Tudor Parfitt and Neil Bradford, who've traced the tribes of Israel through DNA (the Lemba in South Africa), say they have no intention of testing Native Americans to see if they are descendants of the so-called Laminites. It is well established that Native Americans first migrated from Siberia over 10,000 years ago.
But despite the migration route and chronology being all wrong, genetic testing of Native Americans in Central American is still being discussed by a group of former Brigham Young University scientists who have the same financial sponsorship they had while working at BYU, which is an LDS church institution.
Mormons have historically played a significant behind-the-scenes money and power role in America.
Sally Denton and Roger Morris have written about Mormon banker Parry Thomas's financing of Las Vegas, for example, in their book, The Money and the Power:
The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America.
So when I read Dan Briody's comment about Bill Marriott possibly knowing something the rest of the world didn't regarding the sale of its airline catering service to Carlyle, I paused and began to wonder about the volatile mix of Mormons, Carlyle connections and the timing of George W. Bush's meteoric political rise.
Carlyle "founding fathers" Dan Altobello, Steve Norris, Fred Malek and Dan D'Aniello, who participated in the catering service buyout by Carlyle, all came from the Marriott Mormon culture before joining Carlyle
Malek was number two man at Marriott and a former Director of the Republican Party; it was Malek who brought George W. Bush into the Carlyle fold.
Looking closer at the workings of the Mormon Church and its wealth - it is not particularly choosy about the source of its tithes. It accepts money, for example, from a circle of LDS lawyers, bankers and businessmen who represent the polygamist Mormons living out West.
Former Utah-based child advocate Jay Beswick sees these tithes as "blood money" because the lawyers, bankers and businessmen help to support a 10,000 member polygamist/pedophile colony - the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) - on the Utah-Arizona border, which has branches in Texas, Idaho, Colorado, British Columbia and parts in between. Beswick says that if the main Mormon Church really opposed polygamy, it would reject the tithes and excommunicate the lot.
Rodney R. Parker, who legally represents the FLDS, is with the law firm of Snow, Christensen and Martineau which also represents the State of Utah. Parker served in 1988-89 during Bush I's administration as Associate Deputy Attorney General "on the immediate staff" of the Deputy Attorney General of the United States in Washington, D.C. Harold G. Christensen, Of Counsel, at Snow, Christensen served as Deputy Attorney General of the United States in both Bush I's and Ronald Reagan's administrations. Reed L. Martineau was President of the Utah Bar Association from 1987-88.
But getting back to the Briody comment. What could Bill Marriott have known that prompted him to sell his "gold plated" airline catering service to Carlyle, which Carlyle Managing Director David Rubenstein at the time called "the greatest deal since sliced bread"?
Did Marriott have an ear to the ground through Mormon missionary/intelligence connections about a brewing Gulf War which could kill his business? After all, it is widely known that Mormons have had a disproportionate representation in the CIA and FBI through the years, and that J. Edgar Hoover started the FBI with Mormon agents.
They also have a disproportionate representation in the US Congress - five Mormon senators and 12 representatives - partly because of the concentration of Mormons in the Western US.
Or maybe Marriott sensed something from Bush I's National Security Adviser, General Brent Scowcroft - another LDS notable. Scowcroft now heads Bush II's President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. And he has his own firm, Scowcroft Group, which sells intelligence to corporations worldwide.
Within reach is the possibility that the buyout of Marriott In-Flite Services by Carlyle was in part a quid pro quo for Mormon support of George W. Bush's political future.
Carlyle co-founder and Managing Director David Rubenstein was close to the Bush family and its cronies as he made apparent to Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association investors in the speech I first exposed in Progressive Review (Click here: HOW BUSH GOT BOUNCED FROM CARLYLE BOARD - Suzan Mazur, Progressive Review):"We'll put him [George W. Bush] on the board [Caterair] because - you know - we'll do a favor for this guy; he's done a favor for us."
The deal went down. Marriott In-Flite was taken private and renamed Caterair. Carlyle took a 50% stake, committing $93.8 million. George W. Bush was made a Managing Director in 1990. George H.W. Bush was US President at the time and would join Carlyle as an adviser after the Gulf War, and after being voted out of office.
Caterair would go into default in August 1994 with Carlyle's recovery 10 cents on the dollar. Rubenstein nudged George W. Bush into resigning from the board. Six months after leaving Carlyle, Bush ran for Governor of Texas. And then for US President in 2000.
The Mormons have been crucial to George W. Bush's political campaigns. A major supporter has been former Utah governor Mike Leavitt, now Bush II's EPA director. Leavitt is part of a 2,000 member clan.
I met his father Dixie during the Tom Green polygamy trial in 2001 in Provo, Utah.
He told me in the courtroom that I'd find no cooperation if I attempted to research a book on polygamy there and sided with the polygamists saying, "At least they produce something".
Another LDS star who's been cheerleading for Bush is Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, mentioned as a possible 2008 Presidential candidate.
Then there's Karl Rove -- "Bush's Brain". Although Rove is not Mormon, he was nurtured in the Salt Lake City Mormon culture and educated at the University of Utah.
LDS church member Timothy E. Flanigan, Bush's former Deputy White House Counsel and a father of 14 children (opposes abortion), organized the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court legal argument and was later tasked with making the Homeland Security department come to life.
Harvard Business publications is Mormon-run. And the editor of Harvard Business Review as well as the Dean of Harvard Business School are Mormon.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is perhaps the best known LDS celebrity aside from Donny and Marie Osmond. Hatch chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees the Department of Justice and the FBI.
It is unlikely that any breakup of US government-subsidized polygamist sects will occur on his watch. Hatch announced last year at a town meeting in southern Utah, "I'm not here to justify polygamy. All I can say is I know people in Hildale [the FLDS colony on the Utah-Arizona border] who are polygamists who are very fine people. . . . I personally don't believe in polygamy. But I'm not going to judge others who feel differently."
So with no hearings scheduled on these cults anytime soon in the Senate Judiciary Committee, law enforcement is not pressed to do its job. Historically, FBI field offices nationwide have been "manned" by Mormons. The Mormon community thus continues to successfully contain the polygamy issue as it has for the last 100 years.
With the shortcomings of the FBI exposed in recent years, Dawin A. John was tapped by Director Rober Mueller to reorganize the FBI's computer files
. What qualified Darwin A. John as bureau Chief Information Officer was his prior job as managing director of information and communication systems for the Mormon Church, where he'd served for 12 years.
So what does all the Mormon influence amount to? A reach for power like every other interest group, except that Mormons are loyal first to the church.
They see the polygamy issue as still smoldering. Tens of thousands of polygamist Mormons live out West from the Canadian to Mexican borders.
Despite a federal law outlawing polygamy and a Supreme court ruling - Tom Green, the only convicted polygamist in 50 years in America, is currently appealing the US Supreme Court. If his case is accepted, it could lead to overturning the anti-polygamy law that Abe Lincoln championed. It would also clear the conscience of the Mormon community whose roots are in polgamy.
Moreover, Mormons opposed the Equal Rights Amendent and would like to see the abortion ruling on Roe v.Wade reversed. George W. Bush's promise to further empower faith-based institutions is something for American women especially to consider when voting November 2.