I’m a Latter-day Saint. I’m progressive.
I didn’t put qualifiers of religion or politics on either for a reason.
I believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God, was visited by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John and others to restore God’s power, and was the vessel by which the Lord’s kingdom and the pathway to achieve full salvation was restored.
Those beliefs have provided a lens: We are in a temporal world, where the Lord expects us to be good stewards and – more than anything else, other than loving the Lord – actually realize this commandment:
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Thus, I believe in education for all, non-warfare foreign policy, environmentalism, health coverage, education for all and equality. (And I believe in markets!)
Putting aside the lower law, if you will, of Machiavelli and all of the other philosophies of men found in political theory and instead emphasizing the fullness of the gospel, here’s a sampling why:
Before you go all Obamacare this, Obamacare that on me, consider: What did the Savior say of the actions of those who would “inherit the kingdom prepared… from the foundation of the world” who would not be among “the goals on the left?” He said: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25: 34-40)
I don’t know how this mandate is answered any more strongly than by making sure folks have health insurance.
Obamacare is certainly problematic. So was the New Deal.
Non-warfare foreign policy
The work in the final dispensation is meant to prepare the world for the Millennium, when the Prince of Peace will reign. We know that Isaiah saw our day – the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, the final dispensation, and the very-soon Millennium.
What did he say about it?
The Lord “shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4)
As an example of the Lord’s wisdom of peace, why did the George W. Bush administration blitzkrieg a nation when their reason (weapons of mass destruction) didn’t even hold water? No weapons of mass destruction were found, and even right-wing pundit Bill O’Reilly apologized about it, less than one year into an eight-and-a-half year war. Since those in the media who are his allies were so quick to apologize, didn’t President Bush make up an excuse from the outset?
Why did Americans need to lose thousands of their husbands, wives, children, brothers and sisters? Why did thousands of Iraqis – the seed of Hagar blessed with a good portion of the gospel (Gen. 16 (see CES manual), 2 Nephi 29:7) need to have the same thing happen to them?
It’s because of this thing called the military industrial complex. That means that weapons manufacturers have powerful lobbies that push politicians hard to go to war because then they stay in business. What did the Lord say about greed? He didn’t just say “seek not for riches,” but added to seek “for wisdom.” (D&C 6:7)
We all know that the Vietnam War was an atrocious mistake. With Iraq, it repeated itself.
In our modern day, the Lord has repeated the mandate that he told Isaiah: “Renounce war, and proclaim peace.” (D&C 98:16) Out of two or three witnesses. The Prince of Peace is urgent about this.
This is the definition of stewardship for the Earth the Lord created and gave to us. One scripture passage that has always stuck out to me on this is in Moses 3, where we read the Lord created all things “spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” (Moses 3:5) I’m not going to say that Pocahontas’ song is in step with that principle, but Pocahontas’ song is in step with that principle. (“I know every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name…)
There’s also this wonderful piece from the Church titled “Environmental Stewardship and Conservation.” And do we really want our brothers and sisters in Utah who have the trial of asthma to literally be requested not to step outside on a significant number of days during the year? They are, because of red air days caused by output of lobbyists’ clients. (Of course, that means the state legislature doesn’t do anything about it – not even propose tax breaks to incentivize these mega-corporations from being responsible.)
Education for all
We know that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), that we must “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), that you learn “in your mind and your heart” (D&C 8:2), and that you “study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you” (D&C 9:8). Because I know that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and that “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33), these blessings of gaining intelligence, learning and critical thinking are meant for all of God’s children.
Thus, in Heavenly Father’s plan, schools are established for this purpose. Yet, many of our brothers and sisters struggle for this opportunity, particularly when it comes to college. For tens of thousands, it’s still simply not affordable, and even if they do get in, the loans they pay will burden them for the rest of their lives. Not to mention that the cost of college is continually rising. We should be open to any idea that would mean affordable education for all.
We know that the Lord “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.” (D&C 101:80) This Constitution established a congress by which further laws would be established and a system by which it would be quite difficult for congress to change the constitution. There have been 17 since the first 10, which were passed rather immediately after the Constitution was ratified essentially by the same inspired Congress. Thus, those 17 amendments have been miraculous. One of those is the 14th amendment, which provides this guarantee:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
So if our inspired constitution and the miraculous provisions that it has wrought, equality is inspired. And the Lord has said as much in His revealed word. “God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) “All are alike unto God.” (2 Nephi 26:33)
And “...love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39)
Admittedly, I’m a bit angry about the quite-judgmental culture I in which I grew up. It made me feel like a movement that should have led to greater empathy, compassion and tolerance – in other words, love – instead made me feel like it was more like Darth Vader stepping through the doors of the Rebel cruiser for the first time and choking people the further he swept across the galaxy.
What I know now: It was the spirit of love of God moving upon the face of the nation. Much like that spirit of love moved upon Abraham Lincoln as he performed the gutsiest act of presidential history in fleeing the slaves – an evolution that he called “a process of crystallization” in his relationship with Heavenly Father. And much like the spirit of love that moved upon Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Lord’s true principle that “all are alike unto God” took greater hold in the hearts of millions.
I only wish that I had escaped that culture and gained that understanding while that spirit was cutting through a chorus of tension.
Now, if we could just be fair to women (equal pay and maternity leave, to start a long list…) The Savior must understood women’s issues a lot, besides His feeling their pains in the Atonement. Remember how much time he spent with them and that they followed him everywhere? (New Testament)
Does the Republican Party believe in markets, or corporations? Markets allow us to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” as “agents unto ourselves” (D&C 58:27-28). Corporations?
So many of all of the aforementioned issues have been made worse, made difficult to fix and even created by those whose “hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men.” (D&C 121:35) This especially includes those lobbyists representing monolithic corporations that are often built upon the backs of the humble and the politicians who listen to lobbyists before the people. That’s because lawmakers have proven to listen to lobbyists before constituents on an industry forged merely through face time. (Check out this Harvard study.)
Oh, and Barack Obama, our president, is rather awesome.
Who wanted to expand health care coverage for the needy? (Compared with a candidate who disparaged 47 percent of the nation over a related issue?) Who is getting an Iran resolution passed that might just keep us from global nuclear warfare?
Who opened doors again with Cuba shortly after Elder David A. Bednar dedicated the nation for missionary work?
The Brethren have repeatedly said that “principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties.” Let’s ask questions about that. Including this one: Why would the Brethren feel the need to add that to a letter that had to do with a different topic in areas that were overwhelmingly Republican?
I know that the fullness of the gospel is true. I know that it espouses progressivism. Because we are the “Lord’s hands,” as the Savior told Isaiah, we can be for others the answer to this prayer:
O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us. (D&C 121:4)
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Great, so you admit that church doctrine does not support a dole, so we agree on at least one point that the gospel contradicts progressivism.
And if something is evil for church members, God not being a respector of persons, it is evil for everyone. Those quotes also state “EVERYWHERE it is tried, the world learns the evils of the dole”
3) I think you have sufficiently demonstrated that no quotes from general authorities, even if I was able to bring up some recent ones, would change your mind on any subject that you’ve already made a decision on.
4) would you be able to answer this question for me. Do you consider yourself a currently active member of the LDS church? Your answer to that question doesn’t disqualify you in this conversation as far as I’m concerned. It’s just that I have discussed this question with many who consider themselves former members, and I understand their reasoning about progressivism being what Jesus preached. What I am unclear on is the reasoning that a currently active Church member with a firm testimony would use to explain the discrepancy between progressivism and Church doctrine, specifically when it comes to government coercion. I was looking for that unique perspective from the author of this article since he classifies himself in the category of a strong and active member of the church. I wanted to know how someone would explain the apparent discrepancy, yet still believe and defend the prophets and apostles on this matter.
1) It is very interesting that you gave me such a hard time for my 25 year old quotes, then provided me a 35 year old quite. I wouldn’t dismiss a quote from the prophet, I just found it quite humorous.
“Even with the universally accepted desire to help the poor and needy, the Lord concurs in our goal but warns, ‘But it must needs be done in mine own way’ (D&C 104:16). Otherwise, in our efforts to help, we may actually hurt them. The Lord has taught us the need to promote self-reliance. Even if we are able to help, we should not give or provide what they can and should do for themselves. Everywhere it is tried, the world learns the evils of the dole. Truly God knows best.”
(The Lord’s Way Stanley G. Ellis. Apr 2013)
“Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others.”
“Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.”
“When Church members are doing all they can to provide for themselves but cannot meet their basic needs, generally they should first turn to their families for help. When this is not sufficient or feasible, the Church stands ready to help.”
(Handbook 2: 6.1.1)
“Our primary purpose was to set up … a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (Handbook 2: 6.1)
President Kimball on Homosexuality, found in Ensign magazine… and apparently a General Conference talk:
“The fact that some governments and some churches and numerous corrupted individuals have tried to reduce such behavior from criminal offense to personal privilege does not change the nature nor the seriousness of the practice.”
Corrupted individuals… all of us!
What I found interesting about your link is that the majority of it was not about what govt was doing to harm religious freedom, but rather what society was doing. Oaks went so far as to say govt should do more to protect people with religious beliefs from discrimination by others. Interesting. I’ll get you some stuff from Elder Oaks that goes much further.
I’ll get you that link soon. Im still at work.
In a Church where the most sacred and relevant writings are thousands of years old, 25 years is pretty much nothing.
It’s not just Elder Oaks. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/publicstatement-on-religious-freedom-and-nondiscrimination I’m not sure about what you mean with the accommodations comment. The church is actually for protection of LGBT rights when it comes to housing and other things.
I’d also still love to see that Penal Code link.
I have not felt attacked, and I hope I have not made you feel attacked either. Thank you for the discussion.
Either way, they ain’t been talking about it for over 25 years… Safe to say. But they do affirm that they do not support or condemn political parties or ideologies.
No, I wasn’t assuming you believe in no government. I was suggesting that in as large and mixed nation with the unique history we have, not having a social safety net could very well be a security risk. I’d put that on my life. In fact, Reinhold Neibuhr has suggested that bourgeois individualism leads to a police state, because the civil unrest that results requires it. Try to digest that.
I appreciate your unique contribution to this discussion. I hope you don’t take any of my opinions as an attack on you, BTW.
One other point. You mention the Brethren talking about communism because of the danger it was to religious freedom. Have you heard any of the numerous talks recently about the danger to religious freedom due to same sex marriage and other progressive policies?
Do you want me to give some of those links?
Sorry, the way you were talking, I had the understanding that you were at least no longer considering yourself an active member of the LDS Church. If that is not the case, I apologize.
But now you are assuming things about what I am saying. At no time have I said we should not have any government. I would not take away government to the point where we would not have any security to protect our liberties.
If you think the biggest indication that government public assistance is not evil is that there is a lack of talks from general authorities today, you either have not been paying attention, or you think they have to be constantly talking about it. Let me list a few quotes all given within my lifetime.
1) “It [Government] cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will.” – Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign Sept 1987
2) “As government increasingly assumes the burden of caring for all human needs, the independence of our social services and the doctrine which lies behind that position will become more and more important… We can more fully care for our own who may be in need rather than pass the burden to government and thereby preserve the independence and dignity of those who must have and are entitled to help.” – Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign July 1990
3) "Ensign: It might be easy for some to confuse the Church’s welfare plan with government welfare. What are the differences between the two?
Brother Gardner (Managing director of Church Welfare services): I believe there are four fundamental differences. First, the giver in the Church welfare system gives voluntarily to the Lord, because he believes the Lord meant it when he said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40) The government’s program, however, taxes you whether you want to give or not. That is one fundamental difference—no coercion." Ensign interview Feb 1979
4) "[On] October 7, 1935, President Clark, in a special priesthood meeting held in this tabernacle, referring to government gratuities, said:
“The dispensing of these great quantities of gratuities has produced in the minds of hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people in the United States a love for idleness, a feeling that the world owes them a living. It has made a breeding ground for some of the most destructive political doctrines that have ever found any hold in this country of ours, and I think it may lead us into serious political trouble." – Marion G Romney, Ensign May 1976
5) “We have succeeded fairly well in establishing in the minds of Latter-day Saints that they should take care of their own material needs and then contribute to the welfare of those that cannot provide the necessities of life. If a member is unable to sustain himself, then he is to call upon his own family, and then upon the Church, in that order, and not upon the government at all.” – Boyd K Packer, BYU Devotional 2 May 1975
6) “Governments cannot assume the responsibility for the temporal welfare of the people. This is a concept that has not been accepted by the Western nations, and the result has been a major contributing factor to the current economic problems we face today.” – Royden G Derrik (Member of 1st quorum of 70) BYU Devotional 26 Oct 1980
As you mention, the Church does change its position on some things over time. It can change its policies, but it cannot change its doctrines. I say this is a doctrine, that charity, benevolent giving, and caring for the poor, when done through coercion is absolutely opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may say it is a policy, and that policy can change. If that is the case, can you show me any quotes from Church authorities praising government charity or assistance programs?
The main problem I have is that they never address the real concerns that the gospel has with this progressive way of thinking. A majority of the thoughts shared in this article are good points. We SHOULD help the poor, be good stewards of our planet, take care of others, seek education, etc.
Did anyone here have the seminary lesson where the seminary teacher bakes a delicious looking chocolate cake, brings it to class, and asks who wants to have a slice? After everyone raises their hand, the teacher then adds the kicker. They also happened to mix a small amount of cow manure into the batter before they baked the cake. Suddenly no one is interested in having some anymore.
The whole point of that lesson is that it just takes a small change to something that is otherwise very good, to taint the whole thing. The author of this article is serving up a large delicious looking chocolate cake to his readers, but then is completely ignoring the 1/2 cup of cow manure that is included in the chocolate cake.
The point of doing good is not only to have good things done to those who need it. It is all about the change in our hearts and in our natures that happens when we do good and have good things happen to us. That change in our hearts and in our natures only happens when we CHOOSE, of our own volition, to do good. This also answers the question about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. He could stop bad things from happening. He could ensure that no one went hungry, sick, homeless, naked, etc. But doing so would frustrate the plan of God. No one would grow or develop into the person He wants us to be. There would be no progression.
If the goal is to have no more hungry people, the government could theoretically do that. We could implement complete governmental controls and assure that everyone had enough food. Would we be blessed as a society if that happened?
Let me put it this way. I pay taxes. Some of my tax money goes to feed the poor and provide shelter to the homeless. I have yet to be praised for being a good humanitarian on that basis alone. I doubt God blesses me for what I have done in this regard. Why? Because I did not give that money of my own free will and choice.
Satan’s plan in the pre-existence was to compel us to do good instead of allowing us the choice. In essence, Satan’s plan was Progressivism. Anyone who wants to understand this can read any of dozens of addresses from Church leaders. “The Great Imitator” by James E Faust (a Democrat, but not a progressive) is a good example.
Rhett, if you are reading these comments, I urge you to address this. Please let us know how you reconcile this small but significant discrepancy between what you say here and what the General Authorities have said in countless talks.
You also say “And it was a short time ago when gays weren’t even legally allowed to have intercourse without legal penalties… And many people in the church supported those laws.” The CHURCH itself never supported those laws. Individual members of the Church are free to act as they please. You seem to be judging the entire Church, or ALL Church members according to a claim I am not sure you can even prove.
The whole purpose of this site, and specifically this article, is to have a discussion among those who understand and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the LDS faith. You seem to just want to disprove the LDS faith. If you do not believe LDS doctrine, you are free to do so and can voice that as you please. However, that is not bringing anything of substance to this discussion inside the context of this discussion, so I am not sure it would be helpful to continue arguing your points.
Same thing with PPACA… access to healthcare is good, right? No one disagrees. You become “progressive” when you make the logical leap from “healthcare is good” to “therefore we should force everyone to purchase insurance products that we approve of from corporations that we also approve of”.
I personally cannot find any support for these MEANS of achieving those ends in mormon doctrine.
But by not granting government recognition of same-sex couples, we are essentially forcing gays into a second class citizen status… clearly. And it was a short time ago when gays weren’t even legally allowed to have intercourse without legal penalties… And many people in the church supported those laws.
That’s just some thoughts I had on your comment. Cheers
For the marriage question, you would have to explain how the LDS Church is forcing anything. The battle for same sex marriage is not about whether or not homosexual couples can get married or not. It is about the forced recognition of those marriages. The Church has never come out and said that those marriages should not be allowed if the couple locates a willing pastor to perform the marriage. The court battles that have been fought have been for the purpose of granting those marriages the protection of the government, who can then force others to recognize them.
The Church has also stated that within its own organization, they reserve the right to determine the membership status of those who participate. The worst thing the Church can do to those who do not comply is to remove their membership. This is not about force.
The government on the other hand… The worst thing they can do to those who do not comply is to put them in jail, confiscate their property, or execute them if it comes to that.
Here is another answer that may help. There are 2 aspects of force. 1) Forcing others who want to do bad things to not be able to do them. IE, keeping people from stealing, murdering, lying, etc. 2) Forcing those who do not want to do good to do good against their will.
We are not talking about the first one in our responses to this article. We must draw a distinction. Most people, including the Church and conservative LDS members, agree that using force for point 1 is acceptable. What we find unacceptable is point 2. In LDS theology, Point 2 is what Satan’s plan was all about.