Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, 2003, Excerpts
At last count, there were more than eleven million Saints the world over, and Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in the Western Hemisphere. At present in the United States there are more Mormons than Presbyterians or Episcopalians. On the planet as a whole, there are now more Mormons than Jews. Mormonism is considered in some sober academic circles to be well on its way to becoming a major world religion – the first such faith to emerge since Islam. The Church has more than sixty thousand missionaries roaming the globe at any given moment, converting members at an astounding rate. If the expansion of the LDS faith continues at its current pace, governing the United States will become impossible without Mormon cooperation.
The LDS has annual revenues estimated at more than $6 billion, and it is currently the largest employer of the state of Utah. Most non-Mormons think of Salt Lake City as the geographic heart of Mormonism, but in fact half the population of Salt Lake is Gentile, and many Mormons regard that city as sinful, iniquitous place that’s been corrupted by outsiders. To the Saints themselves, the true Mormon heartland is in Provo and surrounding Utah County – the site of chaste little towns like Highland, American Fork, Orem, Payson, and Salem – where the population is nearly 90 percent LDS.
Mormonism is patriarchal religion, rooted firmly in the traditions of the Old Testament. Dissent isn’t tolerated. Questioning the edicts of religious authorities is viewed as a subversive act that undermines faith. The LDS Church forbids abortions, frowns on contraception, and teaches that Mormon couples have a sacred duty to birth as many children as they can support – which goes a long way toward explaining why Utah County has the highest birth rate in the United States; it is higher, in fact, than the birth rate in Bangladesh. This also happens to be the most Republican county in the most Republican state in the nation. Utah County is a stronghold of Mormon Fundamentalism.
Salt Lake Temple