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Temporal and Spiritual Self-Reliance: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Development in the South Pacific

Paul Morris

Abstract


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, aka, the Mormons) plays a significant but largely neglected role in the literature on development in the Pacific. The aim of this paper is to address this lacuna and highlight the distinctive LDS theology of development without which their development agendas make little sense. The Pacific is pivotal to the LDS Church’s global mission where its commitments to development, and emergency relief, have since the 1980s been increasingly understood in terms of an overarching theology of ‘self-reliance’, explored here both theologically and as specifically applied in the Pacific. Two main arguments are advanced in this article. First, the LDS Church’s development programmes in the Pacific have led to a re-articulation of their self-understanding and rationale and a recalibration of their Church’s priorities regionally and beyond. Secondly, while it often seems that Mormons are wedded to the capitalist system, this is recent and they are equally heirs to another model of ‘economic or gospel communalism’, and that the retrieval of this tradition is consistent with the Church’s priorities for the Pacific and a growing concern there.

Keywords


Christianity, development, Mormons, Pacific Islands, Self-reliance

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-id429