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Mormon Invasion!!! : The Onion in London, 1927

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 08, 2011

The following, um, “interesting” bit of news was published in more than one respectable English newspaper in the first weeks of May, 1927 – the Sunday News of London on May 1, for instance – and was picked up by English-language newspapers abroad. As far as I know, nobody was ever identified as the prankster who composed it in the first place.

A GREAT OFFENSIVE

Leader of Princely Tastes and Large Salary

From a Special Correspondent

Utah (Received yesterday)

Preparations are being completed in Salt Lake City for the greatest Mormon missionary invasion of Europe that has ever been planned. Within the next few months 10,000 chosen Mormons will take train and Atlantic liner, and will sweep Britain and Europe.

No less than 3,000 of them will make for London, and accommodation is already being arranged for them by Mormon agents already in the metropolis. One thousand Mormons will invade Paris, and 6,000 missionaries will spread themselves over Italy, Spain, Germany and the Middle European States, of whom 2,000 are proceeding to Moscow at the direct invitation of the Soviet government, who are not averse to Mormonism amongst the Bolsheviki.

To lead this great advance of religious soldiers will come one Terahan Moss, a man of 60, with patriarchal appearance and for some years one of the most powerful of the Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. He will travel “au prince” to Paris, and accommodation such as a film star would occupy has been reserved for him on one of the largest Atlantic liners.

This patriarch may take up his residence in England and be the spiritual head and adviser of Mormon Europe.

For a long time past the council of Seven, which is the inner power of the Mormon movement, has contemplated ambitiously a Mormon world, in the event of which the Great Elder would be the spiritual king of the universe.

11 Tons of Propaganda

Missionaries Who Will Not return Till Victory

The missionaries are bringing over to Europe 11 tons of literature, and among their number are 300 trained preachers who have been studying European languages for three years in the Utah University to enable them to preach in foreign countries.

A plan to found 130 Mormon churches in England is but one of many objects cherished by the Latter-day Saints, and 30 churches will be built in London, with others in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other big centres. These will be established inside of five years following the invasion, say the Mormon heads.

I understand that the first liner load of Mormons will dock at Cherbourg and Southampton some time in July, and that they will not return to Utah until they have more or less accomplished their purpose.

Or maybe it all really happened and I just never heard of it …



9 Comments »

  1. Gosh, Ardis, have you never heard of Terahan Moss before? I’m surprised! (No, I haven’t either. :-D )

    Comment by Alison — September 8, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  2. Well, that explains why great-grandpa was never heard from again…

    Comment by Researcher — September 8, 2011 @ 8:53 am

  3. What do you mean? Terahan Moss was my great-great grandfather’s first missionary companion’s second cousin twice removed.

    On a more serious note, although this was a prank, I think it expressed some ideas that Europeans had. They were scared of a Mormon invasion to convert women to take back to Utah herems. You see this in early 20th century European literature. I also find it interesting the tie-in to the Soviet Union. I get the impression that people at the bare minimum saw in Mormonism something sinister like that of Bolshevism. Prehaps some even knew a little about the United Order and made that comparison.

    Anyway, a fun read.

    Comment by Steve C. — September 8, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  4. And they would have accomplished it too, if it wasn’t for the leaked information that spoiled the entire mission.

    Comment by Ben Park — September 8, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  5. Yeah, I think it happened, other than the Terehan Moss King of Mormon Europe thing. The meeting house locator map at LDS org shows about thirty wards or branches in the greater London area and suburbs, and 322 meetinghouses “nearby”, probably including most of the rest of Great Britain, and the north of France, just across the channel. As to the “We won’t stop” sentiment, I think we’ve been a consistent presence in England since 1927.

    I wonder if they chose the name “Terehan” for it’s vaguely middle eastern sound, and the fear of the Mormon harems?

    Comment by kevinf — September 8, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  6. Is it any wonder that Frank Moss, Terehan’s grandson, turned out to be a Democrat?

    Comment by Mark B. — September 8, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  7. ha ha ha! I just read the letter to Old Humbug. What a day for literary style!

    I want to write a parallel universe novel about Terehan Moss, The Great Elder: the vaguely Oriental Mormon Bolshevik who sought to penetrate Europe with his Eleven Tons of Propaganda.

    Comment by Mina — September 9, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  8. Mina: can’t wait to read your novel.

    Comment by Steve C. — September 9, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  9. FWIW, a search on Google Books yields only one result for “Terahan Moss”—from the 1927 Millennial Star, which included this statement in reaction to the article Ardis found:

    “We venture to add the suggestion that if there be a man in Utah named Terahan Moss he may possibly have written from the State institution for the feeble-minded as the “Special Correspondent” in this case.”

    Comment by Kent Larsen — September 12, 2011 @ 7:53 am

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