Written by William
President Matthew DeVisser, Stake President of the Hidden Valley Stake in Sandy, Utah, has recently come under fire for a political charged sermon delivered on February 3rd at a stake conference.
This was the type of speech that extreme conservatives in the church are anxiously waiting to one day be delivered by President Monson during the Sunday Morning session of General Conference. The beginning of the talk resembles a list of 3 month old talking points from any Fox News pundit. He asserts that these are the facts as he sees them. There are several facts, cherry picked and blurred, presented to reflect the knowledge and worldview that he has. The only ‘fact’ that I object to the most was saying, “[i]n fact, there was no topic talked about more by President Hinckley, during his time as the Prophet, than living within our means and getting out of debt”. According to General Conference texts between 1990 and 2010, President Hinckley mentioned ‘debt’ only 27 times while mentioning priesthood (241), temple (278), marriage (116), and even welfare (42) more (Corpus of LDS General Conference Talks).
Think about the last time you gave a talk in church. Did you share some idea or concept that you felt was really important to share with the congregation? Was the basis of that concept 100% firmly based in scripture? It’s possible that you did and probably didn’t even know. It’s possible that you’re like most people and you tend to blend some of your own perceptions, worldviews, and ideologies with scriptures or conference quotes. I would argue that these diverse experiences and opinions are actually be a blessing to the church. The challenge for Latter-day Saints is to keep their worldly beliefs in check while endeavoring to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
DeVisser’s talk dipped too much in a worldly belief system. For the first half of the talk, I felt like he was preaching the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture. Any Mormon of a liberal political persuasion has probably heard the same or worse in their own ward. The difference is that DeVisser is the Stake President and has much greater influence over the members in his area. Many extreme conservatives in the church let their political ideology dominate their belief system. They the morph and conform their religious beliefs to mesh with the politics. For conservatives and liberals, it has to be the other way around.
Towards the end, President DeVisser makes a heartfelt plea to the members of his stake to repent and rededicate themselves to coming closer to the Savior. Despite inappropriate political infusion, his message of drawing nigh unto Christ is undoubtedly inspired to a Latter-day Saint.