|The Mormons in Guyana
All that glitters is not gold
by Gokarran David Sukhdeo
Guyana Journal, September 2009
AS one who was instrumental in the establishment of the Mormon Church in Guyana, I feel compelled to comment on recent happenings surrounding the failure to secure permits by some sixty Mormon missionaries in Guyana.
For whatever obscure reason or reasons these missionaries did not or could not obtain permits or renewal of permits to stay in Guyana, it strongly appears that the whole issue is latently shrouded by anti-Mormon sentiments, coupled with a strong resentment by Hindu and Muslim figures who take exception to the conversion of Indo-Guyanese to Mormonism. Other nationalists have condemned them as a cult, and without properly defining the characteristics of a cult, sensationalizing and casting them in the same mould as Jim Jones.
In other words, what might have been simply a breach of immigration protocol, is now shaping into a dangerous political/religious feud, or simply put in Mormon vernacular, political persecution of the Mormon religion - an argument they, the Mormons, have perfected and successfully used from the very beginning of Mormonism. And in any political/religious battle, one does not have to guess that Mormonism will emerge the victor; especially when you consider the tremendous political and economic strength of the Mormon Church in the US, having historically fielded at least four presidential candidates and countless gubernatorial and senatorial candidates over the years; and arguably that this is the richest Church in the US.
Sadly, the people of the United States have learned this lesson the hard way. That is why they will not touch the Mormons with a ten-foot pole - even the numerous polygamous enclaves in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Idaho. That is likely why when a hundred or so of children were taken two years ago from another faction of the Mormon Church, they were quickly released.
What then are the lessons to be learned here?
First of all, the authorities need to exercise a super-sensitivity in this issue and seek to avoid at all costs the possible and likely escalation of this problem into what may well be manipulated or construed by the opposition and religious groups (Mormonism, most of all) as religious persecution or discrimination, or whatever terminology they come up with. Political expedience may necessitate bending, and even surrendering. Indeed, this policy may win the populace in the end.
Secondly, the authorities need to remove the clouds that obscure their understanding and that of the people, of Mormonism. This way they can divorce the real issue of immigration protocol from other sentiments, misconceptions and lack of knowledge about the Mormon Church. The matter must be handled in a most transparent manner that highlights democratic freedoms. The essence of democracy is not to impose or dictate legislations and decisions, but these legislations and decisions must derive from the population through a process of education and understanding.
What I simply mean is, let the Mormons stay, but educate the people so that they can make their personal decisions about accepting and joining the Church.
For those who wish to know more about Mormonism, I am in the process of producing a booklet (called The Counterfeit Christ) about my involvement with it since 1988. Hopefully, the media will publish it in a series of letters.
Mormonism thrives among three sets of people - those born into it, those with a little (clouded) knowledge of the Bible (a dangerous thing), and the native Indians of the Americas.
The Mormon Church possesses a number of intrinsic peculiarities. First and foremost, they never initially disclose their Masonic-like and cultist beliefs and practices. One is led into accepting them just as one easily accepts any other denomination such as Pentecostals, Baptists, etc. Then as one progresses (becomes hooked), the "truths" are released a little bit at a time. The second greatest characteristic about this Church is the presentation of the membership. Their presentation leaves little or no doubt whatsoever that they are one of the most disciplined, honest, diligent, altruistic and tithe-giving people in the world. This presentation, no doubt, is what catches the converts.
I, too, was caught by their genuine presentation of total goodness (and, like I said earlier, I was instrumental in the establishment of this Church in Guyana).
I was in the US at the time and was "between churches", and was hungrily exploring a number of churches in Brooklyn in order to decide which to attend. Coincidentally my wife and children were doing the same thing in Guyana when an elderly couple, the Hudsons, arrived in Guyana seeking a place to establish the first Mormon Church in the country.
Church News, the official organ of the Mormon Church, published at the Church headquarters in Salt Lake, Utah, mentioned Guyana in their issues of May 18, 1991; July 24, 1993; April 19, 2003; and in several other issues. In the 1991 and 1993 issues it is stated: "Among the early converts in the northern South American nation of Guyana is Indra Sukhdeo, baptized October 23, 1988.
"...She was introduced to the Church by Elder Benjamin and Sister Ruth Hudson, who arrived in August of that year. The Hudsons asked if they could hold the first Church service in her home [in Enterprise, East Coast Demerara]. She agreed.... After her baptism, she served as Relief Society instructor and later served as Primary President and teacher. She saw the Church moved from her living room to a meetinghouse and the congregation to more than 130...
"The Church gained legal recognition in Guyana the following February and meeting (sic) continued in the Sukhdeo home until March 5, 1989. The Hudsons leased a large home [in Pike Street, Kitty] that was renovated as a branch meetinghouse...
“[In March 1990] the first local branch presidency was sustained, with Kenrick Latchmansingh as president…
"...a few weeks later, Sister Sukhdeo's husband, David, was baptized when he returned home from New York..."
I, David Sukhdeo, plunged head long into Mormonism and became totally immersed in Church activities and studying the scriptures and I was quickly sustained and served in several positions in Guyana.
I returned to New York in 1991, and my family came soon after and we continued our active involvement in the Church, all of us serving in various offices - I, at my zenith serving as Counselor to the Presidency of the Richmond Hill Branch in Queen, New York.
But deep down, and in the depths of my conviction, I was never a Mormon. For fifteen years many questions haunted me, haunted me and haunted me. Then in 1996 I was excruciatingly hurt when my only daughter was married in the Salt Lake Temple and I was denied the opportunity to witness it because it was too sacred for me, having not yet received my temple endowments even though I had been faithfully and diligently serving in various positions. I was dismally relegated to being a mere visitor in the compound of the Salt Lake Temple.
In my earnest zeal to learn more, to know more, and to find answers to the questions that haunted me, I committed the most cardinal sin of the Church. I refused to accept the doctrines as dogma. I told myself God made us into thinking beings and wanted us to make decisions on our own. I started to seek answers to my questions by looking at all possible sources, including non-Mormon, former Mormon and science. This, in Mormon teaching, was allowing Satan to tempt me; it was the height of unfaithfulness.
I pursued these answers for maybe two years, spending sometimes as much as twelve hours a day in research, even studying the rudiments of Egyptology in order to verify the massive fraud foisted by Smith. I visited several temples and Mormon historical places in at least half a dozen states.
The following are only a drop in the bucket of questions that previously bothered me and to which I believe I have found meaningful answers:
Is Mormonism a cult?
The answers that I have found I would like to share with readers if they are interested and indicate so. Otherwise, I urge all to do their own digging before joining this group. It has been said many times before: all that glitters is not gold.