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JACK - Can you tell me the source of the Mormon myth about the tent cities that the saints are supposedly going to live in?
The basic idea known as the “tent city doctrine” is that at some point those who are prepared (a year’s supply of food) and willing, will be invited, by the prophet, to go to “places of refuge”/tent city, where they will be preserved from worst of the calamities to come before the Second Coming. These calamities might be anarchy and roving gangs caused by war and/or natural disasters. Some have come to believe in the idea of ‘tent cities’ because of dreams they have had personally, or because of listening to the dreams, or near-death experiences of others. There are rumors that the church plans to use the girls’ camp facilities in an emergency as centers for tent cities.
One such dream came from a member named Roger K. Young who recorded in his book “Tent Cities in the Last Days?”:
“As a young missionary in Chile in 1973, after a night of being able to preach the gospel to a large group of potential investigators, I was recording in my journal the wonderful opportunity and the spirit that had been present and was still present as I was writing. All of a sudden the veil grew thin and among other things I saw the formation of a tent city near St. George as the people were called to leave the Los Angeles area. I was given to understand several things concerning the event, which I dutifully recorded in my journal. A few years ago, while I was beginning to give firesides and lectures concerning the events of the last days, a number of people began sharing with me their own personal dreams and visions. After a while I started hearing a few of the people describe in their visions & dreams almost exactly the same things that I had seen in my brief vision. I then began to research more into tent encampments or cities, particularly in the last days.”
Another source comes from an article called “Visions of Ranae Lee Regarding World Economic Collapse, and Cataclysms”. In a vision she describes a great earthquake that hits the Salt Lake valley in the last days:
“But I did see the capital collapse on the south end. Buildings were swaying everywhere. People screaming and running. Liquefaction of the ground all over the Salt Lake valley. Hospitals collapse as well as a lot of other buildings. The spaghetti bowl [I-80 and I-15 interchange] smashes down. The large crack that runs from the North east hills of Salt Lake runs down to Taylorsville, these cracks start at this point but get much bigger in the next earthquake I saw that this first "event" included several weeks of earthquakes and aftershocks. The underground fountains also began to open up at this point. This will effect as far away as the Cascades and make them heat up...the death toll will be staggering. I did see angels guarding some homes and the temples. Most of the money was gone and only the military could help.. I saw rioting, looting and people living in tents.”
Another source comes from the famous so-called Mormon woman prophet, Julie Rowe, whose prediction dates of various disasters have come and gone without fulfillment:
She writes of the 'tent cities' in which the righteous will live as they await the Second Coming and plans to move herself and her family into one by June 2015 (didn’t happen).
'I was shown various scenes pertaining to life in the camps and elsewhere,' she explains. 'I witnessed my family and others living in these tent cities.
I saw that we were camping year-round and that the circumstances required us to utilize both cool weather and warm weather clothing.“
While our Church leaders have often warned us to be prepared with food and other supplies in case of disasters, there has been no specific prophecy or teaching that we would someday find ourselves living in these “tent cities”.