A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Zoramites (II)

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ZORAMITES. An apostate sect of the Nephites, who took their name from one Zoram, their leader. They occupied the land of Antionum, where they flourished, B. C. 75.

In the various apostasies, partial or total, that from time to time disgraced the Nephites, there is one characteristic that seems universal to them, however much they differed on minor points. It was the denial of the coming of the Savior in the flesh, and of the necessity of His atonement for the sins of the world. This was the evil one's strong point in his efforts to mislead the ancient Nephites. Thus it was with the Zoramites. They bowed down to idols, denied the coming of Christ, declared the doctrine of the atonement to be a foolish tradition, and misinterpreted the teachings of holy scripture with regard to the being of God. Their declaration of faith was: "Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever." Moreover, they claimed to be a chosen and a holy people, separated from their fellowmen, and elected of God to eternal salvation, while all around were predestined to be cast down to hell. This creed naturally resulted in its adherents and advocates being puffed up in vanity and consumed with pride. They became naughty, uncharitable and tyrannical, and oppressors of their poorer neighbors. Their strange medley of religious ideas gave birth to corresponding vagaries of worship. Being elected to be God's holy children, they had no need of prayer. Once a week they assembled in their synagogues and went through an empty form, which was a little prayer, a little praise and considerable self-glorification. Having done this, they never mentioned God or holy things again throughout the week; indeed, it was a portion of their creed that their synagogues were the only places in which it was lawful to talk or think of religious matters.

Their ceremonies were as absurd as their creed. In the centre of each of their synagogues was erected a holy stand, called rameumptom, which stood high above the congregation; the top being only large enough for one person to stand upon. Each worshiper mounted to this top, stretched out his hands toward heaven, and, in a loud voice, repeated their set form of worship. Having done this, he descended and another took his place, and so on, until all who desired to go through the mummery had satisfied their consciences or gratified their pride. When the tidings of this defection reached Alma, he proceeded to the land Antionum. He was accompanied by his two younger sons, three of the sons of king Mosiah, also by Amulek and Zeezrom. To his anxiety to bring these dissenters back from the error of their ways, was added the fear that if they remained in their wickedness they would join the Lamanites and bring trouble upon their more faithful fellow citizens by urging the renewal of war.

On the arrival of Alma and his fellow-laborers at the seat of this apostasy, they at once commenced their ministrations. They taught in the synagogues and preached in the streets. They visited the people from house to house, using every possible effort to bring these misguided dissenters to an understanding of their perilous condition. Many of the poor and humble received the word of God, while the majority rejected it with contemptuous scorn. Some of the missionaries were maltreated. Shiblon, the son of Alma, was imprisoned and stoned for the truth's sake, while others fared but little better.

Having done all the good they could, the missionaries withdrew to Jershon, into which land the believing Zoramites were soon after driven by their unrepentant fellows. There they found a safe asylum among the Ammonites, who, regardless of the entreaties and afterwards the threats of those who remained in Antionum, shielded and comforted them. The Zoramites then affiliated with the Lamanites, and an army of the latter race, commanded by Zerahemnah, entered Antionum and attempted to drive the Ammonites out of Jershon. In this they were not successful, and, eventfully, after a most desperate conflict, they were forced back into their own lands. It appears that the Zoramites accompanied them, as many of the Lamanite military leaders are afterwards spoken of as belonging to that sect.