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LDS ‘Double Dippers’ Hungry • Wednesday November 6, 2002

Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 2, 2002

Some faithful Mormons still hunger for something to supplement their faith, something the church does not give them. So they become deeply involved in feminism or fundamentalism, divining or dancing, gay causes or Democratic campaigning.

Social anthropologist Janet Bennion of Utah Valley State College calls these folks “double dippers,” and said they are an important subset of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These Mormons may see no conflict between attending a Friday night sweat lodge or a Saturday ACLU banquet and then passing the sacrament or discussing doctrine with a roomful of Republicans at their LDS services on Sundays, Bennion said in a paper presented Friday at the annual meetings of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

“Being Indian and Mormon means that you believe in Christ as an equal brother who is present in the sweat lodge, who smokes tobacco in prayer with you to bless the sunrise and close out the day at sunset,” Bennion said.

Tongan and Hawaiian families may have been attracted to the church because of its emphasis on large, extended families and tradition of charity and gift-giving. Yet these Pacific Islanders have their own version of Mormonism, which often includes the kava drinking that links them to their ancestors and the promise of better days to come.

New Age Mormons often use nutrition and herbalism as a base for living, healing, and spirituality. Others use pendulum and crystals to discern whether there is illness.

In Bennion’s 1996-97 study of the Allred polygamist clan, she found that all those who joined the fundamentalist group were once Mormon.

Men “double-dipped” into fundamentalism “to restore their ideological views of truth and their political status in the community,” she said. “They felt they had no calling or place in the large [Mormon] mainstream and wanted to build their own family kingdoms.”

Mormon women were attracted to fundamentalism for “socioeconomic reasons. They longed for association in a group where many women could work hard together in building the kingdom, raising their children and cutting expenses,” she said.

Those who openly adopt a polygamist lifestyle, however, will be excommunicated from the LDS Church.

Other seekers can become immersed in political organizations, which can be nearly as consuming as church activities, Bennion said.

Whatever their secondary involvement, these double dippers are motivated by a sense of deprivation: they are left hungry by their Mormon faith and seek to supplement their “diet” with other food, she concluded.

Whether it is in an ethnic group, an intellectual book group or a fundamentalist enclave, Bennion said, these seekers will continue to add to their Mormon experience until they have “the spiritual, economic, and social food they need to sustain themselves.”

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