Justification for a Mormon Liberation Theology

By  Joerg Rieger [1]

In the Jesus tradition, God becomes human in the person of someone who is referred to as a “carpenter” but who is really more like a day laborer in construction:  not the guy driving the pickup but one of the guys riding in the back.  And this Jesus chooses to remain in solidarity with the poor; he is no Horatio Alger type trying to claw his way upward.

Jesus the Carpenter

Jesus the Carpenter

What still shocks the mind is how the majority of America’s religious people also accept the God helps those who helps themselves ethic and simply ignore what is plain enough from the biblical testimony:  that Jesus, like the Hebrew prophets before him, consistently supports the “least of these,” declares that he is bringing good news to the poor, and warns against wealth as a dangerous trap.

Like Isaiah thundering about those who “join house to house and field to field” so as to squeeze out everyone else, Jesus directly links suffering at the bottom to greed at the top.  Jesus says very clearly that it is not the poor who are failing but the rich who are flunking the morality test by extracting wealth at the expense of the poor.

It is essential for us to see wealth not only in terms of money but also in terms of power.  Have progressives really understood that yet?  As wealth keep growing at the top, the social power of those at the top grows by leaps and bounds as well.  This dynamic assures that inequality deepens and that what little wealth and power may have dripped down in the past has now dried up.

Before we can talk about alternative religious voices, we must first acknowledge that religion has, for the most part, been a huge contributor to the problem.  Not only has our colonized religion demonized those at the bottom, but it has also been happy to heap praise upon those at the top.


[1]  Wendland-Cook Endowed Professor of Constructive Theology at the Perkins School of Theology at SMU (from an interview with Peter Laarman on religiondispatches.org)

This entry was posted in humanism, mormonism, Religion, Social Justice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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