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Slate.com: The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America?

When America disappears 100 or 500 or 1,000 years from now, it will be gone but not forgotten. As the world's leading military, economic, and cultural power since World War II, the United States will linger in the global gene pool and influence whatever comes next. But how exactly will Americanness get transmitted to the civilizations that replace us?

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What religion might serve as America's preservationist? In the 1960 novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr. imagines a group of monks playing the same role as their European forebears, preserving knowledge in a post-apocalyptic America. Considering this country's microscopic monk supply, it's hard to imagine monasteries banding together to combat data rot. Evangelical Christians seem like a more logical contender: Around 100 million Americans identify as evangelicals, and the idea of the United States as a promised land is pervasive in evangelical thought. But while they're often thought of as a homogeneous bloc, evangelicals are really a diverse and fragmented lot. That makes the movement resilient and adaptable but not exactly the best vessel for preserving a culture. The early Catholic Church, in contrast, was more disciplined and hierarchical, a far better candidate both to survive a collapse and to carry forward societal traditions.

A better candidate to serve as America's time capsule: the Mormons. In an aside in 2007's Are We Rome?, Cullen Murphy posits that Salt Lake City could become "the Vatican of the third millennium," with the Mormon Church "propagating a particular, canonical version of America."

Read the rest of this story at slate.com
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