Occasionally I enjoy browsing through TIME Magazine’s archive. It contains almost every issue of TIME since it began publication on March 3, 1923 and has available a full-text search through more than a quarter million articles. Recently I became curious to see how often The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the subject of the front cover. I found three such instances.
Heber Jedediah Grant, L.D.S.
Mormon Centenary — April 7, 1930
Last week the thoughts of all the 700,000 Mormons in the world dwelt in Salt Lake City, capital of Mormondom and of Utah, where the centenary of the founding of the Church was to be celebrated, exactly to the day, on April 6, 1930.
Mormon good fortune since the trek to Utah is due in no small measure to a faith which greatly admires and encourages prosperity. Mormons irrigated, planted and built with as much persistence as they prayed. A striking fact is that the Mormons did not dig in the ground for metallic wealth but concentrated on husbandry. They made a desert bloom.
Mormon wealth, though impossible to calculate, is apparent to anyone who studies Salt Lake City commercially. The Church owns The Deseret News, two hotels, two office buildings, the Beneficial Life Insurance Co., and Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (first U. S. department store, 1868). Through the Utah-Idaho Sugar Co., the Church owns 24,539 acres of farm lands and operates numerous beet sugar factories in Utah, Idaho, Washington, Montana, South Dakota.
Meanwhile, in 1877, [Grant] married Lucy Stringham. Seven years later, on May 26, he espoused Augusta Winters and, on May 27, Emily Wells. The last is the only one of his three wives now alive. In 1882 a startling businessman, aged 25, he was chosen one of the Twelve Apostles. During 1901-03 he lived in Japan as a Mormon missionary, then served two years as head of missionary activity in Europe. Read the full story at TIME archive.
Mormon Leader Smith
A Peculiar People — July 21, 1947
Mormons today do not expect divine intervention in this sinful world before they have exhausted their own final resources. And 100 years after the Mormons’ perilous trek to Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far from being exhausted. In its self-made oasis on the Western desert, it is flourishing like a green bay tree.
But what will most awe them will be the spectacular manifestations of Mormon diligence and industry. As commander of temporal as well as spiritual affairs, kindly old President George Smith presides over an enormous going concern. The church, as owner of the big and prosperous Z.C.M.I., Salt Lake City’s first department store, deals in everything from plowshares to perfume. It owns Salt Lake City’s top-rung Hotel Utah and its next-best Temple Square Hotel. It owns one of the city’s daily newspapers, the Deseret News, and its biggest transmitter, radio station KSL.
Mormonism is changing with the rest of the world. But few institutions and few peoples have succeeded as well in stamping out their own destiny and in shaping the times in which they lived. After a hundred years there is milk and honey in the land of the honeybee. There are many great monuments: green, irrigated valleys, temples, cities, and that never-to-be-forgotten reminder of Mormon faith and courage, the faint marks of the old Mormon trail. Read the full story at TIME archive.
Kingdom Come — August 4, 1997
In Salt Lake City, Utah, on a block known informally as Welfare Square, stands a 15-barreled silo filled with wheat: 19 million lbs., enough to feed a small city for six months. At the foot of the silo stands a man — a bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — trying to explain why the wheat must not be moved, sold or given away.
The church’s material triumphs rival even its evangelical advances. With unusual cooperation from the Latter-day Saints hierarchy, TIME has been able to quantify the church’s extraordinary financial vibrancy. Its current assets total a minimum of $30 billion.
The top beef ranch in the world is not the King Ranch in Texas. It is the Deseret Cattle & Citrus Ranch outside Orlando, Fla. It covers 312,000 acres; its value as real estate alone is estimated at $858 million. It is owned entirely by the Mormons. The largest producer of nuts in America, AgReserves, Inc., in Salt Lake City, is Mormon-owned. So are the Bonneville International Corp., the country’s 14th largest radio chain, and the Beneficial Life Insurance Co., with assets of $1.6 billion.
The Mormons are stewards of a different stripe. Their charitable spending and temple building are prodigious. But where other churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least $6 billion strong.
“Our whole objective,” says Hinckley, “is to make bad men good and good men better, to improve people, to give them an understanding of their godly inheritance and of what they may become.” And he intends to do it globally. In what will undoubtedly become the hallmark of his presidency, he is in the process of a grand expansion, the organizational follow-up to the massive missionary work the church has long engaged in overseas. Read the full story at TIME archive.
Other Mormon Time Magazine Covers
Senator Reed Smoot 1929
Ezra Taft Benson 1953, 1956
Senator Arthur Watkins 1954
George Romney 1959, 1962
Mitt Romney 2007, 2011, 2012
Glenn Beck 2009
Unfortunately, since I wrote this post in 2008, Time has erected a pay wall. To read the entire article, you must be a U.S. TIME subscriber.