Then again, almost every American religion sooner or later becomes a Gospel of Wealth. Forced into a corner by the Feds, Young’s followers put down their guns and got busy making money—just as the Oneida devotees who made silverware for a living ended up merely making silverware. (The moneymaking activities of the major churches hardly need outlining.) Christmas morning is the American Sabbath, and it runs, ideally, all year round. The astonishing thing, and it would have brought a smile to Nephi’s face as he and his tribe sailed to the New World, is that this gospel of prosperity is the one American faith that will never fail, even when its promises seem ruined. Elsewhere among the Western democracies, the bursting of the last bubble has led to doubts about the system that blows them. Here the people who seem likely to inherit power are those who want to blow still bigger ones, who believe in the bubble even after it has burst, and who hold its perfection as a faith so gleaming and secure and unbreakable that it might once have been written down somewhere by angels, on solid-gold plates.
Adam Gopnik: Mormonism’s History and Meanings : The New Yorker. A shrewd conclusion to an essay filled with the New Yorker’s usual quota of factual mistakes about religion.