How important is self-sufficiency in Mormonism

Bishop Blake Strong leaves nothing to chance. For his introduction, he typed bullet points into his iPad so that he wouldn't forget a brother or sister who played music, gave speeches or handed out bread and water at the Lord's Supper on this Sunday. From his place behind the lectern, he carefully observes that the service in Bonneville is running correctly. Bishop Strong is one of six million Mormons in the United States and has been chosen by church leaders to lead the 325-strong congregation in an affluent suburb of Salt Lake City.

He doesn't need a theological training, he just needs "time and dedication," says the 51-year-old in his office in the unadorned parish hall. Unlike Catholics and Protestants, the Mormons do not rely on paid priests, but on the commitment of the laity.

The dynamic Bishop Strong, who makes his living as a local Audi dealer, invests between 15 and 40 hours a week in volunteering. He describes his job as follows: "I am the spiritual leader of the community and responsible for the well-being of its members."

When the angel Moroni came to America

Every bishop is an influential man: He advises believers on questions of meaning, must always be approachable and selects those parishioners who preach a kind of sermon in the service. Anyone who is appointed bishop has made a name for himself beforehand. For example, he was active in the choir, helped neighbors move or taught children in Sunday school that God sent the angel Moroni to America in the early 19th century to show Joseph Smith the way to several gold plates containing the new gospel was standing.

Smith translated the scriptures and published the Book of Mormon in 1830, which was published to 14 million believers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints - LDS church) gave her name all over the world. The Mormons see themselves as the "true Church" and in the Prophet Smith the innovator of Christianity. Since Mitt Romney, who challenged US President Obama in November, also served as bishop in Boston in the 1980s, interest in the LDS Church, which has around 40,000 members in Germany, is growing.

The dead are baptized representative

Bishop Strong doesn't mind that many reporters travel to Utah to report on the Mormons under the attentive eyes of the church's PR staff (here, for example, a TV report from France 24). He knows that many evangelicals speak contemptuously of "cult" and knows the prejudices that arise because of the rules ("no tea, no coffee, no sex before marriage") and rituals (the dead are baptized vicariously so that families in heaven are united ) circulate. He is convinced: "When people learn more, they will understand that we are Christians."

In Utah, where two-thirds of the 2.7 million population are Mormons, their self-confidence can be clearly felt. Bishop Strong proudly says: "Our beliefs are unique, no one attaches more importance to family and demands so much from their members."

That is hardly an exaggeration: The church asks ten percent of the salary as a donation and a lot of time. The meetings on Sunday last three hours, as the service is preceded by 60 minutes of school and meetings of the men and women. Many are involved as home teacher: They visit families at home, preach and offer support. Critics complain that the network of helpfulness serves social control.

Those who always work on themselves will be richly rewarded

Those who are diligent, pious and constantly working to improve will be richly rewarded and can attain divine status after death and resurrection. For Blake Strong there is only one break from his position as bishop: Mondays stand family home evening in the appointment calendar. He turns off the smartphone, prays with his wife and four children, then reads the scriptures, plays or bakes together.

"Time with my family is the most important thing in my life," he explains, because Heavenly Father has instructed him to take good care of them. This is what the Mormon philosophy wishes for: a close community consisting of strong families.

Their gender image is clear: the man earns the money and can move up in the church hierarchy, while the woman mainly looks after the children, is socially active and, after encouragement from the church leadership, often writes about recipes and decoration ideas on the internet - allegedly every third person is Mommy Blog (an overview can be found here) written in Utah.