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Elder Oaks Tackles Why Mormons Fall for Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

The following is an excerpt from Elder Dallin H. Oaks's book Pure in Heart.

Some have charged that modern Latter-day Saints are peculiarly susceptible to the gospel of success and the theology of prosperity. According to this gospel, success in the world—particularly entrepreneurial succeess—is an essential ingredient of progress toward the celestial kingdom.

According to this theology, success and prosperity are rewards for keeping the commandments, and a large home and an expensive car are marks of heavenly favor. Those who make this charge point to the apparent susceptibility of Utahns (predominantly Latter-day Saints) to the speculative proposals of various get-rich-quick artists. They claim that many Utahns are gullible and overeager for wealth.

Certainly, Utah has had many victims of speculative enterprises. For at least a decade there have been a succession of frauds worked by predominantly Mormon entrepreneurs upon predominately Mormon victims. Stock manipulations; residential mortgage financings; gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, and document investments; pyramid schemes—all have taken their toll upon the faithful and gullible.

Whether inherently too trusting or just naively overeager for a shortcut to the material prosperity some see as the badge of righteousness, some Latter-day Saints are apparently too vulnerable to the lure of sudden wealth.

Objective observers differ on whether Latter-day Saints are more susceptible to get-rich-quick proposals than other citizens. However that may be, it is disturbing that there is no clear evidence that Latter-day Saints are less susceptible. Men and women who have heard and taken to heart the scriptural warnings against materialism should not be vulnerable to the deceitfulness of riches and the extravagant blandishments of its promoters . . . 

If Latter-day Saints are specially susceptible to materialism, this may be because materialism is a corruption of a virtue in which Latter-day Saints take special pride. Materialism is a seductive distortion of self-reliance. The corruption occurs through carrying the virture of "providing for our own" to the point of excess concern with accumulating treasures of the earth.

Lead image from Getty Images.

Get more profound insights from Elder Oaks with Pure in Heart. 

What does it really mean to be pure in heart, and how does one attain such a state of righteousness? In this book Elder Dallin H. Oaks addresses these paramount questions, sharing insight and enrichment from the scriptures, from modern prophets, and from personal experiences.

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