I recently read this article The Zoramite Separation: A Sociological Perspective by Sherrie Mills Johnson. http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=14&num=1&id=362
In a well written and thought out article, Ms. Johnson points out that it is probable that the Zoramites separated from the main body of the Nephites due to a “great inequality among the people”, as was outlined in previous chapters in Alma. It would appear that in many societies throughout history, there can be a tendency towards inequality. Ms. Johnson posits that the Zoramites separated themselves from the main Nephite culture due to their economic and social position within that larger culture. The Zoramites felt that they were being descriminating against. This group of people separated so that they could form a society that included a government and economy that favored them.
I find it interesting that this group seperated themselves so that they could get ahead in life, but yet there were still a large group of poor and have-nots among them. this group of poor largely consisted of the working class types, These are those among the Zoramites who ended up repenting of their sins upon listening to Alma and his fellow missionaries. I always wondered what was this group’s motivation or what was their benefit for staying with the Zoramite group? They were looked down upon by the wealthier Zoramites, they weren’t allowed to worship with them and were in general, considered sub par.
I also find it interesting that the Zoramites separated themselves perhaps because of an inequality that existed and perhaps feeling slighted by the larger group of Nephites (I say perhaps, because it is never defined in the text of the Book of Mormon, however Ms. Johnson does make a strong argument that this was very probable), and then they turn around and do the same to a group of people who are a part of their separatist group!
I wonder what the wealthy used to justify this new inequality that sprung up in their new society. It is also interesting that the wealthy who were not converted and stayed behind, became angry towards the Nephites for accepting the poor who did convert, back into their society. They were so angry and bitter that they ultimately joined the Lamanites and incited them to attack the Nephites to get revenge for ‘stealing’ their people. The Zoramites ended up being a long term thorn in the Nephites side due to this series of events.
What I take from this article and these scriptures in Alma, is that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we need to make sure we do not feed into this trap of inequality and descrimination. We need to guard against pride and thinking that we are better than other people for whatever reason, be it race, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, class, status, etc. Remember, that this group of Zoramites is a group of people who were converted to the gospel and had been baptized and had convenanted to obey the commandments of our Lord. For whatever reasons, they decided to form their own society and breakaway from the main society of the Nephites. This serves as a big reminder that we, as Latter Day Saints, need to always be wary of the temptations of the adversary. Let us make sure that we are not preaching Love One Another on Sundays and then practicing discriminaton and inequality the rest of the week. Remember living the gospel is a 24 hour, 7 day a week commitment.