American Mormons: Where do we stand?

There is something inherently contradictory in Mormon culture that I need help grasping.

Most recently we have seen one side of it manifest in a degree of patriotism and American exceptionalism. American mormons are typically very patriotic people. Aside from sending our kids to the military, we rank among the most patriotic in the country. Many of us believe that the Constitution is directly inspired by God and too many of us like to reference Christopher Columbus in the Book of Mormon — I’m still not sure we should be pointing that out. Hearkening back to the days of Brigham Young, however, there is conflict regarding this patriotism. 

Now, I can’t promise to know the most about Utah or Mormon history, but my knowledge is this: the USA wasn’t backing the mormons in their pursuit of building Zion so they fled to Mexico to make it on their own. I don’t know if at some point they realized that Manifest Destiny was inevitably going to absorb them or that the economics of being your own State within a Nation are not ideal for any kind of society, but at some point, they wanted back in. And here lies the paradox:

We are known for being a particularly obedient society. The 12th article of faith defines this obedience in this sense. We support the rule of law and the leaders of the land to which we belong; whether its the United States of America, Nazi Germany or Tribal East Africa. We believe this to the degree that we can use it for an excuse to obey laws we don’t necessarily agree with. 14,000 mormons lived in Nazi Germany and I’ve never heard of a mormon uprising in Munich. 

We also strongly believe that we are entitled to personal revelation to govern ourselves and our stewardships. Moses declared, “would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” There is an inherent strain of LDS thought that says we are subject to laws only until we are free from them through Christ’s second coming. This spirit has begun to bleed into our patriotism.

I see a lot of open disobedience to the laws of the land with the justification that these actor’s are instead abiding by a higher law. Cliven Bundy and Phil Lyman are anecdotes, but the amount of news coverage and soft, online support they have garnered has been building. My own representative to the United States Congress has reassured his constituents that his only goals as a legislator are defunding the EPA and repealing Obamacare. How’s that for “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law?"

So which one is it? I’m sure the answer lies somewhere in between, but the more often the church takes a side on political issues, the more often Cliven Bundys aren’t called to disciplinary councils, the more often LDS congressmen and women run and win elections on the mantra of “shrinking government to the size that we can drown it in the bathtub” the more I wonder about our heritage as a people of the 12th Article of Faith.

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  • Gary Pacholick
    commented 2016-11-03 12:58:59 -0700
    I grew up in Democratic Chicago, and took great pride in taking part in corrupt politics, i.e. trashing Republican Ballots, Registering folks like the recently dead, foreigners that moved back to their country, prisoners, homeless, illiterate and the mentally incompetent. Why? To keep the power in place that promised to provide the funding and control we wanted. It was organized gang warfare, and it was exciting!
    My mother is Jewish, and Step Grandfather was an Illinois Attorney General who accepted ‘graft’ money from protecting the unions. People that opposed “The” party disappeared, were disgraced, destroyed, and eliminated. That is business as usual in the “Chicago Democratic Political Machine”.
    Then, I learned the LDS faith was true, and joined the Church. I knew that my personal politics were diametrically opposed to the principles of the Lord’s restored gospel, and I needed to make major changes. I learned that compassion needs to be balanced with accountability. I learned the wisdom of protecting life. I learned that principles of self-reliance and hard work are the answers to the socialist welfare state the Democrats have aggressively pushed which was destroying our citizens and communities at the expense of hard-working tax payers. I learned that God truly is alive, and loves each of His children, and will help each one with their problems as they turn to Him, and strive to keep His commandments.
    In 1830, God, in His abundant mercy and wisdom restored His Kingdom as promised. New England was the only place on Earth that could occur. Through divine guidance and grace, He grew and nurtured his fledgling Kingdom through an abundance of opposition from the devils of Earth and Hell. The States of Missouri, Illinois and the United States could not destroy the Lord’s Kingdom, despite their best efforts to do so. Having studied extensively, I learned the Democratic Party, and most of the States conspired to kill the Prophet Joseph Smith, destroy the Saints, and take their beautiful, productive land. The Lord told Joseph early of the opposition they would experience, but that the Kingdom would roll=forth to fill North & South America, and the entire world. Joseph knew the day would come when the Lord’s Kingdom would be a strength and a beacon at a time when the Country and the World would be in great turmoil.
    The Lord’s Kingdom initially was a Theocracy, and needed to be ‘Americanized’ as a Democracy or face ultimate destruction. The Lord helped build, mature and grow His Kingdom, and intervened in it’s behalf until eventually, the US Government and the Lord’s Kingdom could effectively co-exist. I have studied many prophetic warnings of various political issues, and how the Saints would be blessed by following these warnings.
    I strive to be an independent, thought thinker. I am also street smart, and know when I am being had. I don’t blindly align myself with anyone Political Party or candidate. There are aspects of various parties I think are healthy, and align myself to them. Those that are destructive, I avoid. I respect others of differing views, and expect the same accommodation as I know the Lord wants His children to work together to solve our problems. Together, we are stronger, smarter, and better.
  • Jacob S
    commented 2015-11-08 09:58:32 -0800
    As for your representative trying to defund the EPA & repealing obamacare (which I support and would like to see IRS, DOE, TSA, & others added to that list).

    Obeying a law while trying to eliminate it are not mutually exclusive actions. (Also, I think your examples represent more like the “one percent” of Mormons.)
    N. Eldon Tanner In general conference said this; (The Laws of God 1975)

    “Abraham Lincoln once observed: “Bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible; still, while they continue in force, they should be religiously observed.”
    And this;
    “It is most important that all citizens be informed in matters of government; that they know and understand the laws of the land; and that they take an active part wherever possible in choosing and electing honest and wise men to administer the affairs of government.”

    So, you are right in that we have no excuse to disobey laws, we just need to be informed and choose honest men to office, who will repeal bad laws.

    On a side note, here are some other great quotes from that talk;
    “Law is simply the application of truth.” Frank Crane: “Truth is the logic of the universe. It is the reasoning of destiny; it is the mind of God. And nothing that man can devise or discover can take its place.” W. Radcliffe said, “There is no progress in fundamental truth. We may grow in knowledge of its meaning, and in the modes of its application, but its great principles will forever be the same.”
  • J. B.
    commented 2015-09-20 09:22:47 -0700
    I have an actual concern on how our government is functioning, how it has parted ways from the Constitution, on how some in the government abuse their powers in order to gain power over others. I have concern that some in government don’t subject themselves to the very laws they would have others follow. And yet, in true progressive Mormon fashion, the progressive Mormon goes after my intelligence and calls me ignorant and “I can’t understand simple concepts.” Remember me in Church today. All I stated was what I think, with no insults.

    All I ask is, when the government breaks the law in order to create a law, how can you define law? Where is the legitimacy? And when those that broke the law to create a law exempt themselves from the law, what do you call that? How is that ignorant? Where is my allegiance to that? Do I honor the law, or men that subvert the law? (There is no righteousness in subverting the law.)

    The President, Congress and the Judiciary all have limits. When they go outside of those limits, they are breaking the law. That is factual.

    My point of view: Article 1, section 8, the enumerated powers of the Federal Government. Anything not listed there, the 10th amendment is invoked and those powers are reserved to the states and to the people. Regulating the environment is not listed as an enumerated power, therefore, not a power of the Federal Government. In fact, the states would be better suited to run their own local environmental issues.

    Show me specifically in the Constitution where I am wrong without insulting my mental heath. Show me the “Congress shall create agencies” clause from the commerce clause. These are just questions. I have a firm belief that one man cannot abuse another, no matter the situation, if one is trying to act over another, he needs to be able to site his legitimacy. Saying, “because I say so and I have access to guns and jails” is not enough. This is exactly where we are with the EPA. They have turned into an abusive organization, and with this event with the Animas River, Gina McCarthy has turned out to be the worst kind of Communitarian.
  • Justin McAffee
    commented 2015-09-19 07:15:13 -0700
    So what JB is saying is that ignorance is an excuse for being a law breaker/ not recognizing the govt’s authority. For example, Article 1 gives Congress authority to regulate interstate commerce. So to me it’s perfectly reasonable to accept that Congress then has the authority to create the EPA, because it is by commerce that most pollutants enter our water, air, etc., or that any pollution affects commerce. So either way, Congress has clear authority to create the EPA to enforce the law. But Because JB doesn’t understand this simple concept, and the fact that Article 3 gives jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to make those determinations, he thinks he’s above the law. What a rationalization for sin! Unbelievable.
  • J. B.
    commented 2015-09-18 19:06:40 -0700
    The Constitution is a charter of our rights as individuals and the limits that are supposed to be placed on the Federal Government. I believe the guarantees in the Bill of Rights are what set the conditions needed for Joseph Smith to restore the Gospel. If we don’t adhere to the Constitution as it was founded, then those conditions are threatened.

    I see the what the Government is supposed to work as line of authority. The states created the Federal Government, not the other way around. You mentioned Obamacare and the EPA. Here is how I see it. Article 1, Section 8 lists the enumerated powers or responsibilities of the Federal Government, anything not listed is the responsibilities of the states or the people. Nixon created the EPA, a power not delegated to the Federal Government. Obama created Obamacare, a power not delegated to the Federal Government. These are laws that were created illegally. If the law is broken in order to create law, how can you even define law? Under Obamacare, some are exempt from obeying the law either by no prosecution or wavers offered by the executive, which is illegal as well. The EPA now enforces “rules” rather than have laws submitted, debated and passed by congress. What is a rule when it is backed by the force of law? And we see that those within the EPA don’t hold themselves up to the standards that the force on others.

    I don’t believe I have an obligation to obey those within our government that go outside of their authority and don’t follow the guiding document as outlined. In this way, they put themselves above me and want to act over me just because they say so. To me, that is one man placing himself as one greater than me based on his position or his high opinion of himself, and I cannot accept that. They technically have no legitimacy.
  • Eric Biggart
    published this page in Blog 2015-09-18 08:00:06 -0700
  • Eric Biggart
    published this page in Blog 2015-07-17 10:10:20 -0700

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