Next time some Libertarian tries to convince you that the government should not be involved in charity, let the churches do it instead, tell them to read this article about the Mormon church.
Near the start of the pandemic, in a gentrifying neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah, visitors from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived at Danielle Bellamy’s doorstep. They were there to have her read out loud from the Book of Mormon, watch LDS videos and set a date to get baptized, all of which she says the church was requiring her to do in exchange for giving her food.
Bellamy, desperate for help, had tried applying for cash assistance from the state of Utah. But she’d been denied for not being low-income enough, an outcome that has become increasingly common ever since then-President Bill Clinton signed a law, 25 years ago, that he said would end “welfare as we know it.”
State employees then explicitly recommended to Bellamy that she ask for welfare from the church instead, she and her family members said in interviews.
Get that? State employees told her to go to a church, and the church sent missionaries to her home.
She is not a Mormon.
She refused to get baptized as a Mormon.
So the church denied her the aid she needed.
It’s a shame. Utah is a beautiful state, but the Mormons have poisoned everything. I lived there for a few years, but would not go back.
Sums it up.
I’ve had relatives there forever and have spent a lot of time in the state.
It is one of my favorite places in the USA.
Utah has 5 national parks and the whole state could be a national park.
The Mormons aren’t the best part though.
I had a lot of friends and relatives in Utah.
Note the past tense of had.
Over the decades they have all left for elsewhere.
It was the Mormons.
NonMormons are a permanent underclass and discriminated against in many ways constantly.
They just got tired of being a minority with zero influence or political power and left when they found other opportunities.
Akira MacKenzie says
When they aren’t resorting outright Social Darwinism (i.e. “Let ’em starve!”), this is more or less the right’s idea of of a social safety net: Charity is doled out by churches or other private groups under their own rules and criteria. If they require you to join their religion to receive aid (After all, poverty is a moral failing, not a systemic result of capitalism.) you better join or find someone who will. If you can’t, tough!
Akira MacKenzie says
I’d also ask why this arrangement never crossed a federal judge’s bench? Of course, the six theocrats on our current SCOTUS would happily hand the Mormons a victory, but I find it strange no one ever challenged this law before Trump stacked the courts.
How appropriate. I’ll have to share with my Libertarian son who was making the case to me just yesterday that the government shouldn’t be involved with charity.
Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says
It feels like dependence on one’s religious group by elimination of government help is the goal from this sort of religious person.
It’s depressing, the stoopidity, the toxicity, the gun-fondling, the patriarchy that are OOZING out of the US of A.
USA, you make me sick to my stomach. And Mormons are top of the bill when it comes to idiocy.
Right. Because letting a woman starve to death is exactly what Jesus would do.
“And you’ll know they are Christians by their looooovve….” /s
@3 This BS is allowed to continue because the Clinton administration changed the way that federal aid was delivered to those in need. The Feds used to deliver aid directly via federal agencies, but St. Reagan, the GOP managed to convince the electorate that the federal system was cumbersome and wasteful and that states could better and more efficiently manage the distribution of aid through state agencies. Then Clinton hammered the final nail in the coffin with the new policy of delivering federal aid in the form of block grants to the states to be used as they saw fit. The above is the end result of that policy. Because outsourcing to private business contractors and state agencies is ALWAYS better, didn’t you know.
“he said would end “welfare as we know it.”
Well, yes, that part is true. We are an extremely wealthy country that used to feed its citizens but now we don’t.
Also, if you loved the idea of block grants to the states, you are going to love this:
So, to be clear, the federal aid that was supposed to be used to help the hardest hit and poorest is now going to tax breaks for the wealthy, in red states.
“More than a year after Congress approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Republicans in nearly two dozen states have ratcheted up efforts to tap some of those funds for an unrelated purpose: paying for tax cuts. The moves have threatened to siphon off aid that might otherwise help states fight the pandemic, shore up their local economies or prepare for a potential recession.”
@6 No, that would be the Baptists. Not that the fundamentalist Mormons aren’t a contender, but really, top honors still goes to the Baptists.
Marcus Ranum says
I used to have a mormon friend who regularly complained that the only people in america it was still safe to make fun of was mormons. Every time he said that I’d dissolve into giggles. How can you respect anyone who believes such dumb stuff? (I have no religious friends at all, I even got rid of the buddhist; that’s pretty nutty too)
Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says
And related to my 5, I don’t have a reason to believe that instinct to create group dependence is limited to the religious. I saw that in the deep rifts.
@9 Two words: magic underwear.
Jews have magic beanies, Christians have magic crackers, Muslims have magic carpets and Mormons have… magic underwear.
How can you not laugh?
Ray Ceeya says
@8 Nah that’s Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ray Ceeya says
My mom’s half of the family is JW and they are all nuts. When my mom married my dad, she was disowned and disfellowshipped. Her family shunned her for marrying a Catholic. My parents like to say that she never had a day of fun in her whole life until she met my dad. She never celebrated a birthday. Never celebrated a holiday. JWs are pretty miserable people.
@13 yeah I know. I have a friend who was raised JW but left. He married a nice Turkish girl when his military group was deployed to Turkey.
It is trivial to refute that case.
The churches are broke and don’t have the money!!!
If you look at the demand for social safety net services and how much loot the churches take in, there is a huge disparity. They can only contribute minor amounts, better than nothing to be sure but that is about it.
So, where do the churches get their money anyway? I claimed they are broke after all.
Remember that Faith based initiative nonsense that Bush set up?
What the churches do is raid the governments for money, that they then redistribute (and skim off some as well). The Federal budget for the Faith Based Slush Fund alone is in the billions of dollars per year.
Akira MacKenzie says
GASP! You are speaking ill of St. Willie the Slick, trophy consort of St. Hillary the Supreme Girlboss?! Shame on you! Disparaging a Democrat makes baby Chelsea cry and will summon Trump from the pit of Mar-a-Lago! Get on your knees and beg Lady Pelosi and Pope Schumer for forgiveness!
Akira MacKenzie says
May St. Michelle of Going High have mercy on your soul.
@15 Pretty much.
BUT ALL charities, including religious ones, are required to file information returns disclosing donations and what those donations are spent on.
Nothing is stopping you from filing a FOIA request and/or filing a complaint with the IRS.
Remember the shitstorm the Red Cross got for taking in huge amounts of donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and then spending that money on buying new computers for the Red Cross? They ran afoul of the IRS on that one too. If you receive donations from a donor, private or federal government that specifically state that the funds are to be used specifically for one purpose, then the charity is obligated to spend money on that purpose and that purpose ONLY. So if you wrote a check to the Red Cross and put on the memo line “for Hurricane Katrina relief” then that is literally the only thing they can spend it on. It’s just that most donations don’t come in earmarked. Those donation texts that are everywhere now? Generally not earmarked or earmarkable. Which is probably why you see so many of them.
Pierce R. Butler says
The worst thing to see on your doorstep
Oh, I dunno about that. A while back I had a water moccasin on my doorstep, and I didn’t get in any trouble at all for shooting its head off.
silvrhalide @ # 7: Because letting a woman starve to death is exactly what Jesus would do.
For a purported superhero, Jesus could be a real jerk.
@16 Chelsea has Hill and Bill for parents. I’m pretty sure crying came baked in. Extra sadness from pointing out that her parents are venal kleptocrats, one of whom just follows his dick wherever it leads him, is the equivalent of wetting a river.
@19 Did you miss the /s?
No wonder John was the best loved disciple. /s :P
Re: robro @ #4…
Point out to your Libertarian son that that implies that charities should be taxed.
I have a friend who used to be a pretty active Libertarian. He would go on about how Libertarians wouldn’t compromise their principles. Then I pointed out to him that it’s easy to stick to your principles when you haven’t got a snowballs chance in Hell of winning an election. He got a lot quieter about it after that. I’m not even sure he still claims to be a Libertarian.
raven @ #15 — Oh, I know what you’re saying, but I’m “dad” so anything I say becomes something like a “dad joke” and dismissible. Because my partner is a professional volunteer coordinator and has worked for a number of non-religious non-profits, I’m familiar with the charity business as it exists these days. There are some well run charities that make a sincere effort to help clients. They do good work with the money received in donations and through various government programs. On the other hand, all of them have a down side like not paying employees well or treating them fairly while the EDs…executive directors…seem to always make very nice salaries (as in hundreds of thousands of dollars).
Akira MacKenzie says
And were perpetuated by St. Obama of “CHANGE.”
consciousness razor says
Welfare as we know it is the government supporting numerous good, charitable causes spearheaded by private organizations such as Raytheon, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Tesla, Amazon, Google, Pfizer, University of Phoenix, Wells Fargo, McDonald’s, Walmart, etc., etc., etc.
James Fehlinger says
Psychotic Grandiosity: The Case of Jesus “Christ”, Narcissist
Aug 23, 2019
Prof. Sam Vaknin
Illegitimate and adopted children, especially of humble origins,
often develop narcissistic defenses to fend off persistent feelings of
inadequacy and inferiority. Admittedly, it is highly unlikely that Jesus
was an illegitimate child. Adulteresses in ancient Judea were stoned
to death. But, equally, there is little doubt that the circumstances
of Jesus’s birth were shrouded in mystery. His mother, Mary, got herself
pregnant but not by having sexual intercourse with her lawfully-wedded
Early on, Jesus developed magical thinking, compensatory grandiose delusions,
and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience. A firstborn, he was much pampered
by his doting mother. He was a prodigy, a Wunderkind: highly intelligent and
inquisitive and more comfortable in the company of adults than with his peers.
@12 it’s a tossup . The JWs are probably worse . They’ll be nasty and sometimes in a sneaky manner if you are a non JW and you work for them or with them and don’t want to join their bizarre religion. The Baptist’s just feel sorry for you and talk about you like a dog when you’re not there . I’ve got family who are both and I live in a neighborhood with a lot of JWs . Some Baptist’s especially the southern fundie variety are sexually repressed science haters .
Owosso Harpist says
I remember wanting to go to Utah for awhile until my older brother and his close friend Kenneth talked me out of it. Glad they did. I didn’t have the money or any means to go live there and I don’t really want to go and find myself being converted into Mormonism anyway.
Ray Ceeya says
I mean if I were to pick the worst of the worst, it would have to be the Westborough Baptist Church. But that’s more of an inbred family cult than an actual religion.
You can also probably bet that the money to run the food program came via a government grant. Governments like to sub-contract their responsibilities to the lowest bidder
Oh, the Mormon church isn’t hurting for money. They require all their members to donate 10% of their gross income to the church. And yes, they do check… one of the questions a member is asked during their temple recommend interview (a regular meeting to make sure they’re worthy to enter the temple) is whether they’re a full tithe payer. The Mormon leaders insist that members should give their 10% to the church no matter how financially strapped they are—if the members pay their tithing faithfully, then God will “open the windows of heaven” and make sure they’re blessed and provided for. In practice, of course, I’m sure there are a lot of low-income Mormon families who have suffered unnecessarily because they gave money to the church that they would better have spent on their own needs.
I was raised Mormon, and it took me a lot longer than it should have to get away from it—I should have left the church a lot sooner than I did. All of my immediate family is still Mormon (I have a nephew currently on a mission for the church in Côte d’Ivoire), though I do have extended family members who are “apostates” like I am.
@31 Oh, you mean like this?
“Nonprofit organizations, including religious groups, are exempted in the United States from paying taxes on their income. Ensign is registered with authorities as a supporting organization and integrated auxiliary of the Mormon Church. This permits it to operate as a nonprofit and to make money largely free from U.S. taxes.
The exemption requires that Ensign operate exclusively for religious, educational or other charitable purposes, a condition that Nielsen says the firm has not met.
In a declaration signed under penalty of perjury, Nielsen urges the IRS to strip the nonprofit of its tax-exempt status and alleges that Ensign could owe billions in taxes. He is seeking a reward from the IRS, which offers whistleblowers a cut of unpaid taxes that it recovers.”
If it’s any consolation, you’re in good company.
John Morales says
[JSNuttall, getting away is not easy. Kudos.]
A tale as old as time. You’re damned if you do take the soup, you’re dead if you don’t https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/irish-famine-take-soup
James Fehlinger says
Yeah, and while they’re at it they can revoke the Church of Scientology’s
tax-exempt status too, I suppose.
Cf. Chris Shelton (on YouTube):
Sensibly Speaking Podcast #104: Scientology Tax Exemption ft. Jeffrey Augustine
Sensibly Speaking Podcast #111: Update on Scientology Tax Exemption
Don’t hold your breath!
James Fehlinger says
USA? What USA?
Spurred by the Supreme Court, a Nation Divides Along a Red-Blue Axis
On abortion, climate change, guns and much more, two Americas — one liberal,
one conservative — are moving in opposite directions.
By Jonathan Weisman
July 2, 2022
. . .
[T]he United States appears to be drifting apart into separate nations,
with diametrically opposed social, environmental and health policies.
Call these the Disunited States. . .
No doubt you’ve seen this “map”:
bluerizlagirl . says
There really needs to be a legal mechanism in place to prevent exactly this from happening. Religious organisations should be forbidden — on pain of forfeiture of assets or, in extreme cases, forcible dissolution of the organisation and prison time for its leaders — from attempting to recruit while ostensibly doing good work.
Otherwise, you aren’t feeding the hungry; you are taking advantage of the desperate.
James Fehlinger says
The Culture War That More Christians Should Be Fighting
By Tish Harrison Warren
July 3, 2022
[Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in
North America and author of “Prayer in the Night: For Those
Who Work, Watch, or Cry”.]
. . .
It is no news that Christianity, like many other religions, values caring
for the poor. Throw a dart at the Bible and you’ll probably come across a
verse about helping the vulnerable, caring for orphans and widows, loving
the “least of them”. And most conservative Christians today would affirm
the value of individual charity. . .
Mmm whatcha say-ay? That you only meant well?
Well, of course you did.
Mmm whatcha say-ay? That it’s all for the best?
Of course is it.
Mmm whatcha say-ay? . . .
Wha- wha- wha- wha- what did she say?
James Fehlinger says
On the other hand:
I find it curious, given how little I knew about Mormonism when
I read them, that it has turned out that several stories and novels I’ve
remembered all my life turned out to have been authored by Mormons.
The very first paperback book my parents ever bought me was
a 1962 Dell softcover called A Decade of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, edited by Robert P. Mills.
It contains the unusual story “Jordan”, which I found haunting
and memorable enough at the time, though it rather frustratingly felt
as though there was a lot more going on in that “world” than what was in
just that one story — the story felt like a chapter that had been
excerpted from a book. Sure enough, years later, I ran into paperback
by the same author entitled Pilgrimage: The Book of the People,
(and some time after that The People: No Different Flesh),
and found out that the same author been writing these interconnected
stories for years.
They’re definitely science fiction (the “People” are human-looking
aliens with various supernormal powers, stranded on Earth),
but the stories also have a “religious” flavor — nothing very explicit
or doctrinal, I would’ve been repelled by that, just a prominent theme
of being about a very close-knit, disciplined but caring community
with a highly-developed sense of social responsibility. (Some people,
including me, might find a steady diet of them a touch saccharine
after a while.)
I only found out in the Web era that the author, Zenna Henderson was a Mormon,
at least during her early life (people who’ve lived in Utah could’ve have
guessed her origins from the name “Zenna” ;-> ).
She wrote stories about the People between 1952 and 1975
Orson Scott Card came rather later — he became famous
with the 1985 publication of Ender’s Game, but
the first book I read by him, called Songmaster,
was a little unusual for its time in that it explores (in a
sentimental but still very frank way) the theme of the sexual and
romantic attraction of several grown-up male characters for
a beautiful young boy.
It’s the farthest thing imaginable from pornography; there’s
precious little sex, but a great deal of romantic longing.
In fact, when I read it, it seemed like an apology for
man-boy love. Imagine my surprise when I discovered, again
not until the Web era, that its author is 1) a Mormon and
2) not at all supportive of gay rights.
Yet another SF author, who I only found out was a Mormon
in the Web era, is Raymond F. Jones, author of This Island Earth (1955),
which I’ve never read (though I finally got around to seeing the movie),
and a story that I read in 6th grade and
liked very much called “Tools of the Trade” (1950).
“Tools of the Trade”, in fact, imagines starships being built
with a complete absence of nuts and bolts and welds and rivets,
via a technology of streamed matter called in the story
“molecular spray”, which sounds very much like what a contemporary
SF author would call “molecular nanotechnology”.
Comments re “The People” from late Usenet SF pundit
“Gharlane of Eddore” [BTW, I’m perfectly happy with
Diane Varsi’s performance. ;-> ]:
Yes; and it’s a pity. Too much Henderson at one sitting can leave you
in need of an insulin injection, but frankly, we can use a few stories
like hers to leaven the glut of bloody carnography that seems to be the
norm these days.
Intriguingly, one of the folks who contributed stories to Marion Bradley’s
shared-Darkover collections had (apparently with Henderson’s approval!)
grafted Henderson’s universe onto Bradley’s; Terran telepaths descended
from The People appear in the stories.
You might also enjoy a very low-budget made-for-TV movie called “THE PEOPLE,”
which is rentable on VHS. It’s a composite of “ARARAT,” “POTTAGE,” and
“THE FRANCHER KID,” primarily; and the tenor and treatment are very
faithful. I think Henderson would have approved. (The only bad part
of the movie is the casting of Diane Varsi as Valancy Carmody; Varsi
plays the part like a brain-damaged hippie flying on acid and weed,
rather than as an in-charge, serene Elder…)
Actually, she wrote a flock of stories which were printed separately,
and then concatenated into the two books.
The only thing “wretched” about the movie was the casting of Diane
Varsi as Valancy Carmody. (Since Varsi is a worse than “wretched”
actor, and chose to play Valancy as a stoned-out space cadet…)
Coppola did the movie in the California hills, on a miniscule budget,
using fishing poles and cranes for special effects. The music was
lovely, the crayola sketches were perfect, exactly as I’d visualized
them when I’d first read the story twenty years before, and I’m
very glad the movie exists. It’s a good answer to
hundred-million-dollar epics like “TERMINATOR 2,” since it shows that
you can tell a good SF story without spending enough money to build a
It’s out on video tape, and rentable.
It’s actually a composite of several of the stories, not just the first
one; the major plotlines were from “POTTAGE” and the story about the
Did you know that “ARARAT” was published in a junior high-school
English textbook in the fifties? Some editor read it in “FANTASY
AND SCIENCE FICTION,” and knew the kids would love it…..
The one complaint I ever heard on Zenna Henderson’s writing was from
P. Schuyler Miller… he commented that you could contract a case of
saccharine poisoning from reading too many “People” stories at one
The primary script frame was the story “POTTAGE,” which
uses the human teacher played by Kim Darby as a viewpoint character;
the story mentions shuffling, and the child using crayons to produce
magnificent artwork of scenes recalled from racial memory. The
movie contracted an artist with a wonderful style to generate the
pictures briefly shown on-screen.
“POTTAGE” is the second or third “people” story, and can be found
in Henderson’s first book, “PILGRIMAGE: THE BOOK OF THE PEOPLE.”
Several other stories, from both collections, were mined for elements
used in the script.
I just wish they’d cast Valancy with anybody but Diane Varsi.
Other Worlds, Suffused With Religion
By Kimberly Winston — Publishers Weekly
. . .
The Mormon Link
Science fiction writers are more often Mormon than any other
religious denomination. That’s according to http://www.adherents.com,
a Web site that tracks religious affiliation and has compiled
a list of 175 published SF/fantasy writers who are either current
or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The LDS church counts five million Mormons in the U.S. and just
under 11 million worldwide. Compare that to Catholicism, which
has 26 million baptized followers in the U.S. alone, but can claim
only 30 writers of speculative fiction on the same list.
“Mormon theology does dovetail with science fiction quite nicely,”
Preston Hunter, a computer programmer and avid science fiction fan
who created the site, told PW. “Mormons have an outlook on God and
the universe similar to science fiction writers that other Christian
churches do not.”
And that outlook sells books, whether published by Mormon or commercial
houses. Some of the Mormon names on Hunter’s list are among the biggest
SF/fantasy writers around — Orson Scott Card, Dave Wolverton, Anne Perry,
Zenna Henderson, Tracy Hickman and Russell Asplund. Many keep Mormon thought
completely out of their work, while others write openly about their
faith, albeit transferred to another world.
Is there something special about Mormonism that fosters this kind of
literature? Card, winner of the coveted Hugo and Nebula Awards for science
fiction, says the answer is yes. “Mormons are theologically not so far
removed from science fiction. We literally believe that God has created
sentient beings on other worlds, that there really is faster-than-light travel
and that God can go hither and yon. In many cases, we are writing about a
universe we have already thought about from childhood on.”
Portions of Card’s The Tales of Alvin Maker series include scenes from the
life of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. The five volumes of his
Homecoming series, about a race of earthlings guided to a promised land
by the Oversoul, is a retelling of the Mormon trek to Utah. One reason Card
sees a Mormon affinity for science fiction is that their idea of God as a
highly developed man — and not an ethereal, supernatural being — is the
kind of highly evolved hero much of science fiction is founded on.
“We believe in a physical, corporeal being who moves through time and who
was once like us,” Card explains. “We believe he is accessible, but also
bound by natural law, just like us. So the God we believe in is already
50% of the way toward being the God science fiction can accept, so it is
a lot easier for us to move the last 50% without compromising any of our
But perhaps the chief reason Mormon writers have an affinity for
science fiction is because much of their history has painted them as
“aliens” to the American mainstream. Because of their different ideas of God,
Christ and the universe and their early belief in plural marriage, the
first Mormons were hounded out of Ohio, Missouri and Illinois to finally
form, in 1846, a mass exodus west to Utah. This sense of being somehow
different is so embedded in Mormon culture that Pepperdine University’s
Michael Collings, an authority on the science fiction of Orson Scott Card
and author of Storyteller: The Official Orson Scott Card Bibliography
and Guide, sees it as the one chord sounded throughout speculative fiction
by LDS authors. “Whether spoken or not, there is that core of experience
that Card so aptly describes as being an alien in one’s own homeland,”
Collings says. “Some use science fiction as a way of bridging that difference
or of modulating it.”
Marion K. Smith, professor of science fiction writing and literature at
Brigham Young University, told PW the link between Mormonism and
speculative fiction is well-rooted in Mormon cosmology and theology.
In addition to seeing God as a flesh-and-blood man, Mormons also believe
they are literally his children and that he made many other worlds
populated with his offspring as well. Mormons suppose a premortal
existence as “spirit children,” and believe that by “eternal progression”
they can evolve, becoming at some point like God. They also believe in
continuing revelation — that their leader, whom they refer to as a prophet,
receives ongoing divine communication. “So the concept of lost civilizations,
of alien races and other cultures, is not foreign to us,” Smith notes.
And that, he adds, “is a backbone of science fiction, that there are people
who have unusual knowledge and act upon it.”
There’s a subset of contemporary Mormons who are into “transhumanism”,
too. Lincoln Cannon, of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, put in
a few appearances on Dale Carrico’s old “Amor Mundi” blog, back when
Carrico was taking potshots at what he called the “Robot Cult”.
And see also
@39 James Fehlinger:
Famous sci fi and fantasy author (famous for his iron-clad magic systems) Brandon Sanderson is also a Mormon, which I didn’t know until I read his wikipedia page. Once I did, a lot of his cosmology and the way he writes stories as well as the feelings they evoke started to make sense. After rereading the Book of Mormon, which I haven’t touched since my college days (and refreshing on their other beliefs. I grew up Eastern Orthodox, so this was like Ancient Greek mythology to me that I have forgotten), I realized he is pretty much writing what he knows.
In all of his stories, there are pretty strict rules about magic, people are born with “Gifts”, those gifts often corrupt them and The Promised Savior will come for the faithful (there is always a group of faithful waiting for the savior). In Reckoners Trilogy, the gifts of superpowers are given by an “angel” who loathes humans and only those who share those gifts freely, with no wish for personal gain, can stay sane. Either that or they have to conquer their greatest fear. And yes, those powers can often be shared or enhanced via magical clothes. And regular people can become superheroes by the way of sharing!
Turns out, he started his academic career by studying biochemistry at Brigham Young, became a volunteer missionary in South Korea then changed his major to English Literature. Which to me explains attention to detail in magic systems he builds, why there are always faithful and why there are so many conversions from doubters to faithful in his works.
Pierce R. Butler says
James Fehlinger @ # 39 – you can easily make a strong case that Joseph Smith wrote the USA’s first science fiction novel.