August 20th, 2007

Constitutional Questions


photo credit: noonespillow

In a general conference two decades ago, President Ezra Taft Benson said:

…we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Have we read the Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

As Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be”. (via Quoty)

I wonder how well each of us could respond to such questions.

86 Responses to “Constitutional Questions”

  1. TheConstitutionIsntFreedom
    August 20, 2007 at 11:14 am #

    A person can be free without knowing one iota about any constitution (except perhaps not to adopt one).

    The marquis writers at Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Candies in Bountiful say the only problem with the U.S. Constitution is that it’s being ignored. A constitution isn’t very effective if it can be ignored.

  2. Russell Page
    August 20, 2007 at 11:48 am #

    Funny. I just read that talk last week. Very good.

  3. Kelly Winterton
    August 20, 2007 at 11:52 am #

    I think the Constitution can only be ignored because we the people let it be ignored.

    The B of M warns us that it will happen. Secret Combinations are attempting to take sole control of government, and are apparently making pretty good headway.

    President Benson thought we as members ought to take notice.

  4. Carissa
    August 20, 2007 at 12:09 pm #

    Has anyone read Making of America by Skousen?

  5. Dan
    August 20, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    I can answer all those questions from Ezra Taft Benson. Does that mean that I agree with him politically? Hardly.

    It’s funny, really, to see Connor press for a study of the Founding Fathers. Does he even realize that the founding fathers disagreed quite considerably on the issues of governance? Does he even realize we nearly had a civil war in 1800 over the issue of governance?

    The reason I bring this up, Connor, is that you quote a prophet about political issues, tying in people’s minds that if you cannot agree with said prophet about political issues, your religious thoughts might be wayward.

    I wholeheartedly disagree with Ezra Taft Benson’s political views. Plus, the man is DEAD! Why don’t you quote today’s prophets, Connor? Let me see you quote from President Hinckley. Let me see you quote from Dallin H. Oaks.

  6. Kelly Winterton
    August 20, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    Dead prophets don’t matter?

  7. Connor
    August 20, 2007 at 2:12 pm #

    Dan, Dan, Dan…

    Plus, the man is DEAD! Why don’t you quote today’s prophets, Connor?

    So the words of Prophets who have passed away are no longer in force? Has this counsel been retracted? Have we been counseled in the past twenty years not to study and uphold the Constitution?

    …tying in people’s minds that if you cannot agree with said prophet about political issues, your religious thoughts might be wayward.

    Well, the Lord said Himself that the Constitution, given for all people, is justifiable before Him. Oh, and that part about whatever is more or less than it is evil…

    So yes, if one can’t agree with Pres. Benson’s words on the Constitution, or the Lord’s for that matter, than I would posit that one’s religious thoughts might be wayward.

    It’s funny, really, to see Connor press for a study of the Founding Fathers. Does he even realize that the founding fathers disagreed quite considerably on the issues of governance?

    This very much depends on what issue you’re speaking of.

    I can answer all those questions from Ezra Taft Benson.

    Good for you. The question was a rhetorical one. No raise of hands necessary. :)

  8. Dan
    August 20, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    So yes, if one can’t agree with Pres. Benson’s words on the Constitution, or the Lord’s for that matter, than I would posit that one’s religious thoughts might be wayward.

    Um, how nice of you to put words in the Lord’s mouth. I would watch doing that, Connor. What Ezra Taft Benson says politically is NOT the will and word of the Lord. And I would be very careful in implying otherwise. Kinda croaches on the whole blasphemy thing and all.

    This very much depends on what issue you’re speaking of.

    Um, there were few things they agreed on, Connor. In fact, their disagreements were quite vehement and sharp. When you are ready to kill someone else over these disagrements, you’re not talking about gentlemen having tea in front of the fireplace. Don’t revise history.

    So the words of Prophets who have passed away are no longer in force?

    His political words are words of his time. Today is a different time. Sorry but that’s just how it is. Keep living in the 50s Connor. The world is moving on.

  9. Connor
    August 20, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

    Um, how nice of you to put words in the Lord’s mouth.

    If quoting a scripture is considered “putting words in the Lord’s mouth”, then I stand guilty as charged.

    What Ezra Taft Benson says politically is NOT the will and word of the Lord.

    What he says politically? So if he’s giving a talk in General Conference, and 1/4 of his talk touches on political themes, and the rest does not, then do you consider that talk 3/4 of the will and word of the Lord?

    What a prophet says politically is just as pertinent to the Saints than whatever else they say.

    In fact, their disagreements were quite vehement and sharp.

    This mostly dealt with minutia, such as how best to implement the shared ideals and principles they desired to establish in the government. Of course, the debates were hardly unanimous; there was plenty of discord and disagreement among the citizenry, with many apathetic or otherwise pro-King people sympathetic to the crown and indifferent to the cause of liberty.

    I’m not saying that there was unanimity among the Founding Fathers. But there was a general agreement and common understanding about the principles of liberty, and out of their debates, disagreements, and discussions came the founding documents we have come to (or should come to) revere.

    Don’t revise history.

    What a silly statement. You desire to take a few exceptions or experiences and apply it to the entire process and outcome. You seem to be like those who say that since the Constitution contains the 2/3 rule for slaves, it renders its claim to divine guidance null and void. Certainly there were exceptions and instances. But you’d be hard pressed to persuade any student of history that there was as much disunion and contention amongst the Framers of the Constitution as you seem to argue.

    Sorry but that’s just how it is.

    Who’s putting words in the Lord’s mouth now? ;) Who says his words are from and for his time only?

    Where in revelation or scripture does it give a Prophet’s word a sunset clause?

  10. Quiet Observer, UnIdle Witness
    August 20, 2007 at 5:59 pm #

    Dan, I only have a few minutes to type out an initial response to your challenge. I think you’ll find the current prophets rather sympathetic to the past ones (in fact, they love to quote President Benson).

    Gordon B. Hinckley:
    “The Constitution under which we live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law.” (DPGBH, 2:109)

    Dallin H. Oaks (in part):
    “One should not expect perfection–one certainly should not expect all of his personal preferences–in a document that must represent a consensus. . . . It was a miracle that the Constitution could be drafted and ratified. . . . Personally, I have never considered it necessary to defend every line of the Constitution as scriptural. For example, I find nothing scriptural in the compromise on slavery or the minimum age or years of citizenship for congressmen, senators, or the president. President J. Reuben Clark, who referred to the Constitution as ‘part of my religion,’ also said that it was not part of his belief or the doctrine of the Church that the Constitution was a ‘fully grown document.’ . . . That was also the attitude of the Prophet Joseph Smith. . . . I see divine inspiration in what President J. Reuben Clark called the ‘great fundamentals’ of the Constitution. . . . U.S. citizens should follow the First Presidency’s counsel to study the Constitution. They should be familiar with its great fundamentals: the separation of powers, the individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, the structure of federalism, the sovereignty of the people, and the principles of the rule of the law. They should oppose any infringement of these inspired fundamentals.” (The Spirit of America, 16-17, 24)

    Harold B. Lee:
    “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).” (THBL, 526)

    There’s a bitter price to pay in being minimalist toward prophetic counsel.

  11. Carissa
    August 20, 2007 at 7:05 pm #

    What Ezra Taft Benson says politically is NOT the will and word of the Lord

    To be fair, what proof do you have of this that makes you so sure? How do you draw the line between what IS or IS NOT the will of the Lord when a prophet speaks?

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

    “The “lay” members of the Church are under obligation to accept the teachings of the authorities, unless they can discover in them some conflict with the revelations and commandments the Lord has given. There are times when the leading brethren have expressed their own opinions on various subjects… This they have a perfect right to do, but when the Lord has spoken through His servant who holds the keys there should be unity among the members of the Church” Answers to Gospel Questions 2:112-3

    I guess what I’m wondering is what conflict you see between Benson’s words and other revelations/commandments/scripture we have been given that would cause you to “wholeheartedly disagree” with his views.

    Even if you believe he has never been “moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord” while speaking politically, do you not consider his opinion to be more valuable than many other sources in the world?

    “…he [a prophet] lives under inspired guidance, which makes him great among men, and therefore, his unofficial expressions carry greater weight than the opinions of other men of equal or greater gifts and experience but without the power of the prophetic office.”

    “The unofficial views and expressions of such a man with respect to any vital subject should command respectful attention. Wise men seek the counsel of those wiser or abler than themselves.” John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations

  12. Quiet Observer, UnIdle Witness
    August 20, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    Amen to that, Carissa.

    Joseph F. Smith:
    “The fact of the matter is, when a man says you may direct me spiritually, but not temporally, he lies in the presence of God–that is, if he has got intelligence enough to know what he is talking about. If he has not intelligence enough to know, then he only makes a mistake. But if he has intelligence enough, he knows that the spiritual and the temporal are one, indivisible and inseparable, and that you cannot direct a man spiritually without you direct him temporally as well. The spiritual and the temporal are blended in men. No man can act upon the promptings of the Spirit but it will affect him spiritually and temporally. It is true, we are dual beings, and the body and the spirit make the soul of man; but while that is so, whatever will affect you temporally will affect you more or less spiritually, and whatever will affect you spiritually will affect you temporally. So that this splitting of hairs, this dividing of very small things, is not manly, is not brave, is not honorable, is not intelligent, but is ignorance and foolishness in the sight of the Lord. I am in this Church to be directed body and spirit to the doing of the will of the Father in heaven, and I shall not stop short of that whether it affects me temporally or spiritually.” (CD, 5:125)

  13. Quiet Observer, UnIdle Witness
    August 20, 2007 at 8:24 pm #

    Years ago, I first noted, “Those who seek to determine at what moments a prophet is not a prophet tend to give themselves the benefit of the process.”

    Heber J. Grant:
    “We sing and have done so constantly, ‘We thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet, to guide us in these latter days.’ There are a great many who ought to put a postscript to that and say: ‘Provided he guides us to suit our own fancies and our own whims.’” (Gospel Standards, 304) President Grant then puts the fallout of fallibility where I feel it rightly belongs: “The mistakes which have been made have been because of our failure to listen to the prophet whose right it is to guide the people of God.”

    That they are fallible does not concern me so much as how terribly fallible I am, and how completely infallible is the One who put them in their position of leadership. They cannot thoroughly discredit themselves in any department and maintain the Lord’s approbation. Truth be told, their elevation at the Lord’s hand to the greatest office on the planet says a great deal about how much He has come to trust their way of thinking and interacting with mankind.

    Russell M. Nelson:
    “From time to time, I hear people speculate on the question, ‘When does the prophet speak as a prophet, and when does he speak otherwise?’ This query seems curious to me, as if one were presumptuous enough to sit in judgment on a prophet. In my close associations with President Kimball, spanning two decades and the spectrum from suffering to sublimity, I have never asked that question. The only question I have asked has been, ‘How can I be more like him?’” (Spencer J. Condie, Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle, 176)

    L. Tom Perry:
    “While my father attended LDS High School he worked and lived in the home of President Joseph F. Smith. In his life history, Father wrote this of President Smith:

    Most great men that I have known have been deflated by intimate contact. Not so with the prophet Joseph F. Smith. Each common every day act added inches to his greatness. To me he was prophet even while washing his hands or untying his shoes.” (Living with Enthusiasm, 121)

    I remember now why I seldom frequent message boards. I find myself rather exercised when there’s an acrid tone about a prophet of the living God.

  14. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 4:42 am #

    Quiet Observer,

    Thank you for sharing from today’s prophets. See, it wasn’t so hard. Although Harold B. Lee is also dead, longer than Ezra Taft Benson…

    I find myself rather exercised when there’s an acrid tone about a prophet of the living God.

    You misunderstand me. I disagree with Ezra Taft Benson’s political views. And yes, we can disagree. In fact, it is highly important that we do so. Don’t you understand? Why do you think the church was so heavily persecuted and forced to flee in its infancy? It was because the church voted as a block on everything. They grew too powerful for the people of Illinois. The people of Missouri did not want to have such a powerful foreign group (to them, Mormons were not Christians).

    You guys think that just because we have the truth makes us immune from corruption through politics. Little, it seems, you guys know of history. Having Mormons in one political party, or one political viewpoint was never a good idea. Just look at how corrupt the Republican party, especially in Utah, has become. Look at how corrupt the are. And you want me to be a part of that? That Republican party is that way thanks to the likes of Ezra Taft Benson and Harold B. Lee! No thank you!

    You guys forget that these men are men. They are not gods. They are imperfect, and yes, even with their age, and with their long study of the scripture, they still make mistakes, including ones they could not let go of from their youth on what political views they adhere to.

    Don’t you guys see the problem of tying political views to religious views? Com’on guys, use your heads. Let’s see you use those brain cells. What are the problems of tying your political views to your religious views? Please, think clearly about this.

  15. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 4:55 am #

    Carissa,

    To be fair, what proof do you have of this that makes you so sure? How do you draw the line between what IS or IS NOT the will of the Lord when a prophet speaks?

    When you study enough of the scriptures and the world around you, you know the difference.

    Even if you believe he has never been “moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord” while speaking politically, do you not consider his opinion to be more valuable than many other sources in the world?

    It depends on what he says. But no, not really. Take for example President Hinckley’s approval of the war in Iraq. Am I really going to trust him in regards to Iraq again? Nope. Does that incident not prove that even our prophets today have let their political leanings tinge what they say too much? What the heck did Iraq have to do with the defense of our nation?!?!?!?!?! President Hinckley, a conservative, fell for the spell that has come over conservatives. He’s come to realize, according to his friend Michael Wallace, that Iraq is not going well at all. But I doubt we will ever hear publicly from President Hinckley that we never should have gone in to Iraq.

    Does this affect my belief that he is the Lord’s prophet and that he speaks for the Lord? Nope. But I know the difference when he speaks for the Lord and when he speaks for himself. If you study enough of the scriptures and how this world works, including how this church works, you will know the difference.

    “…he [a prophet] lives under inspired guidance, which makes him great among men, and therefore, his unofficial expressions carry greater weight than the opinions of other men of equal or greater gifts and experience but without the power of the prophetic office.”

    “The unofficial views and expressions of such a man with respect to any vital subject should command respectful attention. Wise men seek the counsel of those wiser or abler than themselves.” John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations

    I’m sure John Widtsoe would agree that this counsel is not set in stone, that there are indeed exceptions to this counsel. One of course, being if that “unofficial” view happens to be wrong, or partisan, wherein it is tied more to one’s leaning than what really is. See, the Spirit, according to the D&C testifies of things as they really are. That is an interesting statement. As they really are. What does that mean about what we see around us, and about what we think about certain events or situations? Our perspective, no matter how wisened with age, is still COLORED!

    Take for instance Dallin H. Oaks’s talk on same gender attraction. I doubt you would ever have heard such a talk from Harold B. Lee. I doubt he would ever have taken the time to really ponder and really research homosexuality like Dallin H. Oaks did. These are MEN! These are not super-men. These are human beings. They have biases. They even believe wrong things!

    How about Harold B. Lee getting mad at Wilkerson for letting blacks go to BYU. What was it that he said? If his daughter married a colored, it would be on Wilkerson’s head! Is that how a prophet of the Lord talks? Well, he was only an Apostle at the time. Is that how an Apostle of the Lord talks? Of course it is! He is a product of the 50s. That’s how they talked back then! His views on blacks have political consequences. Did Harold B. Lee ever share these views publicly? Thankfully not that I know of. But that’s the kind of man he was. And it is my personal opinion that the church was not able to give blacks the priesthood until men like Harold B. Lee died off, who would never have signed off on such a revelation. Remember, the Apostles and Prophets MUST be in unison before a new revelation is revealed to the world.

    All these things point to the Prophets and Apostles being men, regular, but wisened men called to what they are called to. Their callings are the hardest in the world, and the Lord does choose carefully and presciently. However, that does not change the fact that they are still men with weaknesses, including political leanings that handicap them from seeing the world as it really is rather than as they grew up thinking it is.

  16. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 7:26 am #

    I wish to add, to all those who support Ron Paul. Y’all are going against the counsel of the prophet, based on how you interpret the words of the prophet. Did not President Gordon B. Hinckley counsel in April 2003 that the war in Iraq was good? That it was scripturally backed? Did not President Hinckley use scripture to support his rationale behind supporting the war in Iraq? Ron Paul spoke out against the war from the start. By supporting Ron Paul, you are going against the prophet of the Lord, as you interpret the words of our prophets. Perhaps y’all should repent and all.

    (some sarcasm in that if you can’t tell)

  17. Kelly Winterton
    August 21, 2007 at 8:14 am #

    Dan, those are interesting points you make. I especially liked the one where you will not trust Pres. Hinckley’s personal opinions on Iraq any more.

    Truly, the illegal Iraq War is worse than Viet Nam.

  18. Carissa
    August 21, 2007 at 8:30 am #

    Dan,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Did not President Gordon B. Hinckley counsel in April 2003 that the war in Iraq was good? That it was scripturally backed? Did not President Hinckley use scripture to support his rationale behind supporting the war in Iraq?

    I realize the point you are trying to make here, and I can see how many might think the prophet is politically supporting the war from this talk. But, I feel like he was trying to support the people (the troops and civilians on either side of the conflict) more than the actual war. He knows that most of the troops “are not in that land of blowing sand and brutal heat because [they] enjoy the games of war” but because in their hearts they are “committed to the defense of liberty”.

    He outlines and emphasizes the predicament of wanting, teaching, and believing in peace while being subject to government at the same time. I appreciate his feelings because I share that same predicament (believing the war is a mistake, but also being part of the military).

    Someday soon my husband will probably be in Iraq, fighting in a war that neither he or I believe is in true self-defense of our nation and is bringing about more harm than good. And yet, at the same time, I can feel peace knowing that our motives (his and mine) are good (even if our government’s aren’t) and that God is overseeing all of this and possibly using it to bring about his purposes.

    I realize that I can take a stand against evil, but I will still have to be subjected to it in some ways until the Lord himself intervenes. For that reason and others “am I really going to trust him in regards to Iraq again?” Absolutely. He is God’s prophet and I trust in him far more than in my own intellect. You may think that is unwise or naive, but I feel safety in it and I know it helps me to be a better person.

  19. Curtis
    August 21, 2007 at 8:32 am #

    Good points Dan. Good points all, but i can definitely see where Dan is coming from and it’s not from the land of No-faith.

  20. Connor
    August 21, 2007 at 11:50 am #

    Dan,

    When you study enough of the scriptures and the world around you, you know the difference.

    Coming from one who accused me of borderline blasphemy since I was “put[ting] words in the Lord’s mouth” by quoting a scripture, I find this statement quite intriguing. You argue that by studying the scriptures and current events, you can sift through a Prophet’s words and determine what is and is not the mind and will of the Lord?

    Interesting.

  21. Carissa
    August 21, 2007 at 12:16 pm #

    Yes, shouldn’t our discernment of a prophet’s words have something (a great deal, actually) to do with the Holy Ghost and not just our intellectual efforts?

  22. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 12:27 pm #

    Connor,

    Yes actually. We’re not to blindly follow the prophets. We’ve been counselled on that on numerous occasions. If we cannot choose and discern for ourselves, then we’re not learning the right lessons here in this life. I DO actually know the difference when a prophet is counselling from his own opinions and when he is counselling as the Lord’s prophet. And it is not a matter of it always matching with how I see the world around me.

  23. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    Carissa,

    Yes, shouldn’t our discernment of a prophet’s words have something (a great deal, actually) to do with the Holy Ghost and not just our intellectual efforts?

    If you read my comments carefully you’ll note that I said from a study of the scriptures and from the words of the prophets, as well as the things of this world. This is what my patriarchial blessing counselled me to do. Study the things of this world. Know what is going on. Study the gospel of Jesus Christ. Know it.

  24. Connor
    August 21, 2007 at 12:34 pm #

    Dan,

    If we cannot choose and discern for ourselves, then we’re not learning the right lessons here in this life.

    This indicates that a Prophet’s words are subjective, open to interpretation by each individual.

    Let’s make one thing clear: truth is not subjective. It is eternal, universal, and concrete.

    Contrary to what some teach (“what’s right for you is the right thing”), there are certain things that are absolute truths, regardless of what others may think. As Rick Koerber says: “Some things are true, whether you believe them or not.”

    And so, opening the “discern for ourselves” can of worms leads to the conclusion that a Prophet’s words are true for some, but not for others. If I feel that a Prophet’s political speech is true, but you think it’s “from his time”, then who is right? Did that Prophet speak truth, or did he not?

    Rely on your extensive knowledge of current events and “the world around you” all you want, but as for me and my house, we’ll follow the Prophet.

    Even the dead ones.

  25. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 12:35 pm #

    Carissa,

    But, I feel like he was trying to support the people (the troops and civilians on either side of the conflict) more than the actual war.

    That’s a very interesting statement. If I’m not mistaken it seems that you are attempting to go around the words of President Hinckley so it fits your pre-conceived view, as if President Hinckley would never have actually stated a support of the mission itself. He is, in your eyes, simply “supporting the troops.” Is that what you really think was the point of his War and Peace talk?

    It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.

    It sure seems like he is saying here that America under Bush was justified to take this action, and not just talkin’ about the soldiers. He goes on:

    This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do.

    Hmmm, what is President Hinckley implying here? That mayhap someone voting for a Ron Paul might be going against the will of the Lord because he would be one who “impedes or hedges up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression?” That sure is what it sounds like to me.

    Furthermore, what the heck does President Hinckley mean when he says: we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. Is he implying that such neo-conservative actions as the ones in Iraq are perfectly justifiable? What happens when you vote for someone who differs with that point of view? Are you not going against the will of the prophet?

  26. Dan
    August 21, 2007 at 12:38 pm #

    Connor,

    Contrary to what some teach (”what’s right for you is the right thing”), there are certain things that are absolute truths, regardless of what others may think.

    Really? Tell me, was President Hinckley right about Iraq? I just quoted him. Was he right?

    Rely on your extensive knowledge of current events and “the world around you” all you want, but as for me and my house, we’ll follow the Prophet.

    Then why are you not in Iraq “committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy?” That’s what our prophet said just four years ago about Iraq.

    Do you see the conundrum you place yourself in with such a rigid view about the prophets, Connor? (no pun intended) If what the prophets always say is the truth and is right, then president Hinckley was right about Iraq, and Ron Paul is wrong. If so, then why do you support a man who goes against the words of your dear prophet?

  27. Curtis
    August 21, 2007 at 12:56 pm #

    Guys guys guys,

    All right. Here’s my short two cents. I think following the prophet is a fine thing to do and you can’t go very wrong from doing so. You should follow the prophet until you learn the Spirit of Prophesy and Revelation for yourself. Once you are thoroughly on the path to developing this Gift in yourself, you do have the opportunity to discern if the President of the Church is speaking truth or falsehood. Notice I didn’t call him “the prophet.” I don’t think it is right this habit we’ve gotten into of calling the President of the Church “the prophet.” Obviously, he is only a prophet when he is acting as one. He has a portion of the gift of the Spirit of Prophesy, but so does anyone else who seeks after this gift. He has the privilege to receive revelation for the Church on the whole, and he alone has this privilege. The great purpose of this gospel though, is to teach every one of us to receive revelation from the Lord… to eliminate the middle man, if I might say so. The Lord wants us to use the light he’s given us, the Light of Christ. D&C 88:13 tells us that this is the law which governs all things. How we act then, in relation to our conscience, in relation to the words of Christ that come to us through the Holy Ghost, is what we will be judged by. Usually I would expect that light will have us follow the President of the Church. However, there are times when we may be led down paths that not everyone is required to follow and I believe that it is key that we follow that light until it’s brightness leads us back into Christ’s presence.

    In summary, it is of paramount importance that we follow Christ regardless of what man might say.

  28. Carissa
    August 21, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    With my last comment, I only wanted to emphasize (and this is not directed at you, Dan, just a general comment) that our study must be accompanied by the spirit in order to learn certain things that are spiritual. For example, Russell M. Nelson said:

    “That gift [the Holy Ghost] helps us understand doctrine and apply it personally. Because truth given by revelation can only be understood by revelation, our studies need to be prayerful.” Living by Scriptural Guidance, Jan 2001 (Also see 1 Cor 2:11-14)

    I think it’s useful for us all to remember that when trying to understand or learn anything (especially the scriptures or words from our leaders) that we invite and use the Holy Ghost as part of the process. I think doing this involves having a “not my will, but thine” approach.

    Again, I’m not accusing you of not doing this Dan — just pointing it out since it hasn’t really been mentioned.

  29. Carissa
    August 21, 2007 at 2:17 pm #

    Dan- yes, I do feel like much of President Hinckley’s talk is about supporting the troops while leaving the larger political issues somewhat vague. I’m sure we would both agree that there is room for interpretation as to what he really is saying. For example, you ask:

    what the heck does President Hinckley mean when he says: we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy.

    I take this to mean that “we the people in this church…” because in the preceding paragraph he says “we of this Church are people of peace…”. I don’t think he is saying our government is obligated, but some may easily infer that.

    It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.

    I’m not sure exactly what he has in mind here, but I do not believe that using a constitutional process to end the war for good reasons is it.

    My interpretation could be wrong and I just might be “attempting to go around [his] words so it fits my pre-conceived view”. I’m willing to admit that. I hope we get more specific counsel on this subject.

  30. Chris
    August 21, 2007 at 2:46 pm #

    Dan thanks again for the laughs. Wow you really do have some issues…brother.

  31. Jay Gunther
    August 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm #

    I’ve read and studied the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Making of America and a lot of other similar materials. The reason I started studying the Constitution was because back in 1987, the First Presidency issued a statement admonishing all members to study and defend it. Since then, I have renounced the Republican party. There is absolutely no question in my mind that Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate who is prepared to honor his oath of office.

    Jay

  32. Doug Bayless
    August 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm #

    What interesting responses to what I saw as such an innocuous question by Connor!

    I try not to get too caught up in the ‘when is a prophet acting as a prophet?’ thing but while I agree it’s a valid topic, I think it invoked too often with fairly predictably contentious results.

    Back in my early college days I was sure that I really didn’t like Ezra Taft Benson’s pre-Prophetic ultra-conservative political activism. I liked the fact that once he was Prophet he seemed less political. I reveled in stories like the one where Elder Benson and Elder Hugh B. Brown (another one of my favorites who happened to be a ‘liberal’ foreigner [well…OK, a Canadian, but still… ;)] got reprimanded by President McKay for contending about secular politics and were commanded to ‘Shut Up’ for a day (which was a pretty tall order for such intelligent, articulate, and verbose men) if I remember correctly.

    Then one day I made friends with one of these ultra-conservative types at one of my jobs and spent many enjoyable hours arguing politics and actually ended up reading a good deal of ‘The Federalist Papers’ among other things. As it turns out, I like a lot more of Ezra Taft Benson’s “pre-Prophetic political activism” then I thought, lol.

    These days I’m more likely to point out that the Savior himself had both a publican and a zealot in his original twelve . . . (which are much further apart then any of our domestic political parties imho) than to try to claim one man-made political philosophy entirely encapsulates the gospel and that another is its evil antithesis incarnate.

    Going back to Dan’s comment where he insinuates that President Hinckley advocated religiously backing our pre-emptive attack on the Iraqis, I seem to remember President Hinckley explicitly saying that there was room in the church for protest and dissent on the issue. I like the feedback I got from friends who tell me that in Europe the talk was seen as an attack on war in general and a modest swipe at current US policy whereas here in the states it was generally seen as red-meat support of the attack. (I blog about this on my site)

    Finally, what I really wanted to say is the arguments in documents like the Federalist Papers are much more interesting than I had expected. I’ve moved (politically I suppose) from my less-informed early days where the only thing I really respected about the Constitution was the inspiration to make it changeable [and I would put extra emphasis on some of the negatives like the slavery compromise that Elder Oaks points out in that quote above] to a place where I’m really impressed by a great many ‘foundational’ truths that did get included [which Elder Oaks goes on to focus on] which I have found surprisingly relevant today.

    So, anyways, yeah I’m really starting to like this Ron Paul character with all his zeal about the Constitution because when I read him, I find he tends to back it up with reasoned knowledge and a good perspective on history [which I find in too short supply amongst many of the other candidates at the moment]

  33. Quiet Observer, UnIdle Witness
    August 21, 2007 at 11:19 pm #

    Dan, I issue this with a gentle tone unlikely to be felt via text, but I simply must say regardless that I detect greater and greater acridity about more and more great men. You never call them President Benson or President Lee. Your sense of Church history seems to be gleaned from its enemies and fringes. (For instance, President Lee’s daughters were “safely” married off well before Ernest L. Wilkinson arrived on the BYU scene.) And whence such anger?

    The reasons that the Church was persecuted are many, but there is no argument in it for encouraging disunity—certainly not in the critical present. Do you remember those times in Kirtland when scarcely ten men brave enough to defend the Prophet Joseph could be scraped together? A review of the introductory verses of Sections 103 and 105 shows that, in the bigger picture, the Church was driven because it was not united and obedient. It was also driven, as so many leaders attest, because it held the restored gospel upon the earth. (They’ve even said that one may at times locate the truth by looking for where Satan has gathered his opposition.)

    Those who did the driving have always comforted themselves with pretenses that it’s because of our alleged unity, though there are sometimes actual cultural affinities with which they do indeed disagree violently, not that they wouldn’t have mobbed us anyway. (Evans, One Hundred Years of Mormonism, 330-331, covers this point well.) Just like today, people oppose Mormonism in Mitt Romney’s person, having no idea how few Mormons rally to him; I too fail to see him as an embodiment of all that is LDS. Put anyone up front, decent or not, call him “Mormon,” and watch the world cry out against it!

    While freedom of expression is absolutely critical to our nation and all self-governance, our leaders have never taught that we will be stronger for division.

    Hyrum Smith:
    “We want a President of the U.S., not a party President, but a President of the whole people; for a party President dis[en]franchises the opposite party. Have a President who will maintain every man in his rights. . . . I despise the principle that divides the nation into party and faction. . . . Damn the system of splitting up the nation into opposite belligerent parties. Whatever are the rights of men guaranteed by the Constitution of these United States, let them have them. Then, if we were all in union, no one dare attempt to put a warlike foot on our soil. I don’t like to see the rights of Americans trampled down.” (O’Driscoll, 372-373)

    Brigham Young:
    “It has been told me from my youth up that opposition is the life of business, especially in the political arena. It is opposition that has ruined our nation, and has been, is and will be the ruin of all nations. . . . Parties in our Government have no better idea than to think the Republic stands all the firmer upon opposition; but I say that is not so. A republican government consists in letting the people rule by their united voice, without a dissension,—in learning what is for the best, and unitedly doing it.” (DBY, 364-365)

    If you perceive some sort of distasteful bloc among members, I am sorry for it, but that cannot honestly be attributed to our leaders, including Presidents Benson and Lee. The Church line, reiterated every election year, has always been to encourage its members to vote in accordance with their conscience. These reminders predate, run through, and postdate the administrations of Lee and Benson.

    First Presidency, 1911:
    “In Utah every citizen is perfectly free to vote as he or she elects by an absolutely secret ballot. Primaries, conventions and the political machinery used by the several political parties are in vogue, and Senators are chosen by the Legislature, and Representatives by popular vote as elsewhere. . . . Advocates of each party take the platform and freely ventilate their views and feelings as to their opponents, and if there is anything really objectionable, it is the excess of that liberty in the indulging in personalities and other extremes of partisanship, which are greatly to be regretted and ought to be condemned. . . . The principal accusers of the Church as dominating in politics are persons who have sought for that influence in their own behalf, and are enraged because they could not obtain it.” (MFP, 4:227)

    This encapsulates why I personally feel that I and others can stand boldly, nobly, and independent in the political arena: “Every man and woman who has arrived at the years of political accountability and has the right to vote should never sell himself or herself or pledge himself or herself to vote for men regardless of who they may be, provided only they are nominated by their party. Unless I am misinformed, men all over this state are pledging themselves in groups to vote for the nominations at their party conventions, without knowing who is to be nominated, thus selling their God-given right to stand up for honorable, true, virtuous men, men worthy of the franchise of the citizens of the United States of America. . . . And any man or woman who signs an agreement to vote for whoever may be nominated, regardless of who the individual may be, is relinquishing his God-given right of the free exercise of conscience” (Heber J. Grant, IE, 31:510-511).

    A lot rings true in Connor’s article, “Prophetic Political Silence.” So I say little else, inasmuch as most seem ill at ease with such sentiments: “Do you not think that we need revelation about government as much as anything else? I think we do. I think we need God to dictate to us as much in our national and social affairs as in church matters” (John Taylor, JD, 15:176). I could not in good conscience refuse to listen to those best qualified to touch my conscience. Jacob 7:4-6, 23 demonstrates the frequent encounter between misguided intellect and unshakeable prophet…and how the Church can expect to emerge victorious.

    During my own life’s spiritual progression and counsels, I have been directed to seek “out of the best books words of wisdom,” and so I would never think of cutting myself off from the source of all wisdom and the very God who lent authority to those pronouncing such blessings in the first place. Wisdom has been defined as the “proper application” of knowledge, which also comprises giving due weight to our sources. My reason is not ejected altogether, but neither do I always leave it in the driver’s seat to do as it pleases. The light of the Spirit’s inspiration cannot guide our reason rightly when we treat the prophets lightly, who may be called “the prophet” by right of standing in preeminence above all who are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators (and there’s not that many of them, either). There are notes of unanimity among our presidents not discerned by those too busy disagreeing because their own ideas get in the way. (Matthew 13:12, JST.) It is easy to argue that one follows the Brethren, but to me it falls flat if in their discourse they seem to point more to themselves than Christ and His anointed.

    Adieu, and may God be with us all.

  34. Russell Page
    August 22, 2007 at 12:09 am #

    @ Dan

    Did not President Gordon B. Hinckley counsel in April 2003 that the war in Iraq was good? That it was scripturally backed? Did not President Hinckley use scripture to support his rationale behind supporting the war in Iraq?

    No. He did not give that counsel. He did not say the war was good. He did not use scripture to “support his rationale” because he did not counsel that “the war in Iraq was good.” Read it again. You’ve sorely misconstrued what he says.

  35. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 10:18 am #

    Russell,

    Actually I think YOU need to read again. Here is a relevant passage from his War and Peace talk:

    It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.

    He’s clearly saying that he believes that in this particular instance, this is one time where our nation is justified in taking action against Iraq. Furthermore, he continues with this:

    Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy.

    Taken right out of the neo-con playbook. I mean if that is not a justification for preventive warfare then I don’t know what is. One has to ask President Hinckley just what exactly he means by this. “Committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy.” If he is saying this as justification for going into Iraq, does that also mean that he would justify going into Iran? How about North Korea? Where does it end?

    I love President Hinckley and have learned much from him. But when it comes to politics, I cannot trust his words.

  36. Connor
    August 22, 2007 at 10:24 am #

    He’s clearly saying that he believes that in this particular instance, this is one time where our nation is justified in taking action against Iraq.

    Absolutely not! This was a general statement, an easy conclusion to come to after reviewing history and scripture. Did he mention Iraq specifically? Or, since he mentioned it as we entered war, you automatically assume that it was his giving a green light for the current operation?

    Taken right out of the neo-con playbook.

    False. Neocons don’t believe in defending liberty. They believe in pursuing war. Sure, neocons parrot that statement in order to gain public support for their warmongering actions, but they don’t truly believe it. President Hinckley does. And so do I.

    Being committed to the defense of liberty does not entail invading their country to provide it. I, for example, am against all tyranny and oppression. I’m in support of all those who seek to protect and promote liberty. Does that mean that I’m going to go ballistic and attack those who are subverting it? No. If those whose liberty is at risk ask for my help, then I’m certainly able and willing to lend a hand. But without their consent and my moral authority, I have no right to defend their liberty and get involved in their personal affairs.

    You’re reading far too much into President Hinckley’s words and trying to paint a portrait of his support for intervention into Iraq. I’m with Russ—no such endorsement was given.

  37. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    Quiet Observer,

    You never call them President Benson or President Lee.

    Hmmm, I didn’t know that I needed to call them President in order to show respect to them. I actually thought that in our culture calling someone by their full name is rather respectful. Besides, you do realize that in your comment, you also failed to call them by President Benson and President Lee on at least one occasion. So if you call me out on it, you MUST follow your counsel completely, my dear sir.

    Your sense of Church history seems to be gleaned from its enemies and fringes. (For instance, President Lee’s daughters were “safely” married off well before Ernest L. Wilkinson arrived on the BYU scene.)

    Actually no. I got that little tidbit from David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. I know, it sucks when people you revere end up being regular people with foibles and faults, including some that might be rather reprehensible. That’s life, dude.

    The reasons that the Church was persecuted are many, but there is no argument in it for encouraging disunity—certainly not in the critical present. Do you remember those times in Kirtland when scarcely ten men brave enough to defend the Prophet Joseph could be scraped together?

    Hold on, now we’re talking about two different periods in the church’s history. I was referring to Illinois and Missouri, NOT Ohio. The reason the church was persecuted in Ohio was self-inflicted wounds, where members were not following God’s counsel. However, in Illinois, the problem was that the saints had too much political power for their neighbors. Please reread your history and you’ll find this out.

    If you perceive some sort of distasteful bloc among members, I am sorry for it, but that cannot honestly be attributed to our leaders, including Presidents Benson and Lee.

    They pressed against Democrats so much that in effect it created a one-party rule in Utah. We can see today the ugly results of those actions. I’m sorry, but they were wrong.

    The Church line, reiterated every election year, has always been to encourage its members to vote in accordance with their conscience. These reminders predate, run through, and postdate the administrations of Lee and Benson.

    Right. But President (see I have it down) Lee and President Benson fought against that, getting members to avoid anything to do with Democrats so that it ended up becoming a one party state. So sad. For example, when Ezra Taft Benson gets up in General Conference and asks members to read Cleon Skousen, a partisan hack who really has nothing else to do than slam those who don’t agree with him politically, it sends a very wrong message. Furthermore, Ezra Taft Benson is quoted as telling the Associated Press that it would be difficult for a faithful member of the church to be a liberal democrat.

    Jacob 7:4-6, 23 demonstrates the frequent encounter between misguided intellect and unshakeable prophet…and how the Church can expect to emerge victorious.

    Interestingly, the church is moving far away from the extremism of Benson and Lee. You have President Gordon B. Hinckley actually stating that it is perfectly okay for members of the church to be members of opposing parties! Doesn’t that go completely against what Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young said?

    Furthermore, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, on the authority of President Hinckley is working on educating Utahns CONTRARY TO what Ezra Taft Benson tried to do!

    The LDS Church, through a high-ranking leader, is making its strongest public statement to date about the need for political diversity among members, while expressing concerns the Republican Party is becoming the “church party.”

    “There is sort of a division along Mormon/non-Mormon, Republican/Democratic lines,” says Elder Marlin Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. “We regret that more than anything—that there would become a church party and a non-church party. That would be the last thing that we would want to have happen.”

    It seems Marlin K. Jensen, and President Hinckley who authorized his actions, are going against the counsel set forth by the quotes you gave us from Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young.

    Can y’all see now just why it is so important to focus MORE on TODAY’S prophets rather than the ones long dead? Which word is more relevant to our time? That of Brigham Young calling for political unity, or that of Gordon B. Hinckley calling for political diversity?

  38. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 10:47 am #

    Connor,

    Please reread his whole talk. Note this particularly revealing passage earlier on:

    And so I venture to say something about the war and the gospel we teach. I spoke of this somewhat in our October conference of 2001. When I came to this pulpit at that time, the war against terrorism had just begun. The present war is really an outgrowth and continuation of that conflict.

    Was the war in Iraq really an “outgrowth and continuation of [the war in Afghanistan]?” What does this tell you about what President Hinckley really felt about the war in Iraq? He believed BUSH!

    Then he states this:

    But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.

    In other words he trusted Bush to not lie to America! He is agreeing with the war, Connor!

    He then states this:

    However, we all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.

    He’s telling you right there what his “personal loyalties” and “personal feelings” are in this matter. He backed this war, Connor. And he stated it as his “personal feelings,” not the will of the Lord. Was he wrong or wasn’t he?

  39. Connor
    August 22, 2007 at 11:01 am #

    Was the war in Iraq really an “outgrowth and continuation of [the war in Afghanistan]?”

    Dan, step outside of the “right and wrong” mentality for a second. First, note that I agree with you about the illegality and irrationality of this war. But let’s examine exactly what President Hinckley said.

    When he said that the Iraq war was an “outgrowth and continuation” of the Afghanistan war, he was right. Did he say that we were there for the right reasons? No. Did he say that it was a correct or justified “outgrowth and continuation”? No. He simply stated that that’s all it was – a continuation of the Afghanistan war.

    And he was right.

    Look, one might desire to believe that President Hinckley was condoning or supporting the war, but I don’t necessarily think that’s what he was saying at all. Some may disagree, but I don’t find in his words an express, explicit approval of and support for the Iraq war.

    In other words he trusted Bush to not lie to America! He is agreeing with the war, Connor!

    Again, step outside yourself for a moment and analyze his words without a “pre-conceived view”, as you like to call it. President Hinckley was simply stating a fact, one that is very correct: our political leaders have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people in general.

    Is this not true?

    Sure, our leaders abuse it, hide it, and cover it up. But the fact remains, as President Hinckley said, that they have greater access to that information than the public at large does.

    He’s telling you right there what his “personal loyalties” and “personal feelings” are in this matter. He backed this war, Connor. And he stated it as his “personal feelings,” not the will of the Lord. Was he wrong or wasn’t he?

    And just what responsibility did he cite that governors his personal feelings and loyalty? It was the responsibility to defend one’s family, liberty, religious freedom against tyranny and oppression.

    Now, was that interpreted by some to say “that means we need to go into Iraq!”? Apparently so. But that conclusion is, I believe, a misguided one.

    He’s stating eternal truths that are everywhere found in the scriptures: we are to defend ourselves and our families, uphold freedom, and seek for liberty. What’s new about this? Does the fact that he says this as the war in Iraq was beginning mean that he condoned it? Believe so if you wish, but I do not.

  40. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 11:06 am #

    wow Connor, that was pretty good spin. Is it really that hard for you to accept that President Hinckley supported the war in Iraq?

  41. Connor
    August 22, 2007 at 11:09 am #

    wow Connor, that was pretty good spin. Is it really that hard for you to accept that President Hinckley supported the war in Iraq?

    Ha! If President Hinckley were to come out and state “I support the war in Iraq”, then we can have a discussion on his “political opinions” which you ignore and consider misguided. But trying to read such support into his statements where no such explicit statement is given does not convince me of his “personal opinions” on Iraq.

  42. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 11:09 am #

    Then again you have to try to spin what President Hinckley said. Because based on how you view prophets, if President Hinckley actually supported the war that means that you too must support the war, based on how you see prophets. Therefore, you also would not be able to conscientiously support a candidate like Ron Paul who has been vociferously against the war, because that would mean that you would be going against the “wise” counsel of your prophet.

    And no, the war in Iraq was NOT an outgrowth and continuation of the war in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq had NOTHING to do with the “war on terror” and everything to do with Middle East geo-politics. But nice try on the spin.

  43. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    Connor,

    If President Hinckley were to come out and state “I support the war in Iraq”, then we can have a discussion on his “political opinions” which you ignore and consider misguided.

    I’m trying to recall, but I believe you’ve been one to say that a prophet doesn’t need to come right out and say exactly what he means for us to understand exactly what he means. If you cannot see that his War and Peace talk is a “personal opinion” about agreeing with the war in Iraq, that’s between you and God. However, it is quite clear that President Hinckley’s own personal opinion is that of President Bush’s, that the war in Iraq was a natural progression from the war in Afghanistan and that based on scripture, he believes it to be justified for America to start that war.

    I love, by the way, how you now try to get around the words of a prophet. It doesn’t fit your pre-conceived notions, so you’ve got to find a way to justify going against his counsel. Too cute.

  44. Connor
    August 22, 2007 at 11:19 am #

    Dan,

    Your sarcasm tires me, so please stop. Feel free to debate the issues, but the quasi-condescending tone grows old after a while. Learn to debate properly, or please stop commenting. This goes for all other commenters, not just yourself.

    You may feel that I have a pre-conceived notion that I’m trying to conform a Prophet’s words to, and that’s fine. I happen to disagree.

    If President Hinckley supports the war, then you are correct in stating that I would have to rethink my assessment of what all that would entail. Next time I see him, I’ll ask him so we can get a straight answer. Until that time, I find little success in trying to spin his words one way or another to assess what his explicit personal belief is in regards to Iraq. You say tom-ay-to, I say tom-ah-to, and we get nowhere. You feel I’m spinning it one way, I feel the same about you. It’s fruitless without having an explicit declaration to definitively put the matter to rest.

    And so we’ll move on.

  45. Curtis
    August 22, 2007 at 2:00 pm #

    Connor,

    Dan’s got a point here. President Hinckley coming out and saying that his personal feelings at this particular time (the beginning of the Iraq war) are governed by the example in the scriptures of the Nephites fighting with the Lamanites in order to preserve liberty, is a pretty good indicator that he was in favor, grudgingly perhaps, but that he supported the government in the war. Dan does have a good point here and I despite the sarcasm, I do think you should rethink your policy on either the war or your views of every word uttered from a prophet’s mouth.

    An example of a serious problem between prophets past and present is seen in that same “War and Peace” talk. President Hinckley says:

    “I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do.”

    Whereas, in the past, Brigham Young on the same topic has been quoted as saying:

    “Our traditions have been such that we are not apt to look upon war between tow nations as murder… Does it justify the slaying of men, women and children that otherwise would have remained at home in peace, because a great army is doing the work? No: the guilty will be [edited by admin]ed for it.”

    Hugh Nibley, Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, edited by Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1994], 214.

    Something’s got to bend man.

  46. Kelly Winterton
    August 22, 2007 at 2:07 pm #

    yeh man, this is truly a conundrum!

  47. Connor
    August 22, 2007 at 2:17 pm #

    …is a pretty good indicator that he was in favor, grudgingly perhaps, but that he supported the government in the war.

    Okay, here’s how I see this conundrum:

    If a prophet specifically states that it is his personal opinion, then that’s great. But does that mean that we should follow him, or must follow him? Of course not.

    But the other times when a prophet says something (political or otherwise) without expressing it as opinion, then it’s dangerous to write it off as such when no such evidence was provided. Claiming that the words of a leader are “from his time” or simply based on bad facts is a dangerous thing for a Latter-day Saint to do, when no such disclaimer was offered by that leader.

    I still believe that President Hinckley was not giving express approval and support of the Iraq war. But in this larger discussion, that is beside the point. What matters regarding your question is how much weight is to be given to a prophet’s personal opinion, when he explicitly states it as such.

    If the prophet were to say “It is my personal opinion that red meat is bad”, does that mean we should stop going to In-n-Out (mmmm, double double…)? No! But if the prophet says “red meat is bad” without giving any disclaimer, then his words carry more weight in my mind.

    So, with President Hinckley stating his personal opinion in this talk, I’m fine with whatever that opinion was. It was his, as Dan has argued. But Dan seems to feel that I’m of the position that a prophet’s personal opinions should become the de-facto standard for all Latter-day Saints, and I don’t believe that I’ve ever expressed such an opinion or thought before. Should anybody know different, please let me know where I’ve said that.

    Personal opinions are just that—personal. They are not binding, and not offered for widespread implementation by all Latter-day Saints. Buy I stand by my belief that when that disclaimer is lacking, the words carry a stronger value that should be followed by those who claim to “follow the prophet”.

  48. Dan
    August 22, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    Connor,

    But Dan seems to feel that I’m of the position that a prophet’s personal opinions should become the de-facto standard for all Latter-day Saints, and I don’t believe that I’ve ever expressed such an opinion or thought before.

    You have done it in the past. I cannot recall a specific instance. But let me share with you Carissa’s #11 comment from above wherein she quotes a prophet:

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

    “The “lay” members of the Church are under obligation to accept the teachings of the authorities, unless they can discover in them some conflict with the revelations and commandments the Lord has given. There are times when the leading brethren have expressed their own opinions on various subjects… This they have a perfect right to do, but when the Lord has spoken through His servant who holds the keys there should be unity among the members of the Church” Answers to Gospel Questions 2:112-3

    I guess what I’m wondering is what conflict you see between Benson’s words and other revelations/commandments/scripture we have been given that would cause you to “wholeheartedly disagree” with his views.

    Even if you believe he has never been “moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord” while speaking politically, do you not consider his opinion to be more valuable than many other sources in the world?

    “…he [a prophet] lives under inspired guidance, which makes him great among men, and therefore, his unofficial expressions carry greater weight than the opinions of other men of equal or greater gifts and experience but without the power of the prophetic office.”

    “The unofficial views and expressions of such a man with respect to any vital subject should command respectful attention. Wise men seek the counsel of those wiser or abler than themselves.” John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations

  49. Connor
    August 22, 2007 at 3:06 pm #

    Dan,

    You have done it in the past. I cannot recall a specific instance.

    Feel free to search my blog to back up your recollection. But unless you provide an example, I don’t know how you can say that I have done it. Perhaps I have, I do not recall. But unless you can prove otherwise, your assumption holds no merit.

    And saying that a leader’s unofficial expressions “carry greater weight” does not imply that they are correct 100% of the time…

  50. Kelly Winterton
    August 22, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    President Hinckley had a “personal opinion” and within the same talk he said we all have the right to discuss the issues as we see them, because that is our right, as long as we do it within legal means. Being thus encouraged by a Prophet to have “my own opinion,” and to express it, I feel I can express an opinion that may be different from his opinion.

    I hereby express my opinion that Cheney and Co. orchestrated 9/11 to be a pretext to the wars we are now fighting over control of Middle East oil, and the war is illegal, and the military is much more Satanic than we’d like to admit – with all the torture and cover-ups of things like Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. There were no WMD during the past decade, and this excuse was only another of the lies used as pretext. The doctrine of pre-emptive war is not scriptural, and has not increased the safety of our country and has destroyed our reputation. The wars are now bankrupting our economy and the facts of the past 4 years bear me out.

    President Hinckley has not made any public attempt to bear up “his opinion” since his original talk. This alone leads me to think that he won’t try to do so in the future either, since the declared doctrine of the church is to stay politically neutral.

    With an official doctrine of political neutrality, the field is wide open to discuss the facts as we see them, without needing to rely upon the Prophet’s “personal opinions.”

    The Church, however, has declared support for the Constitution, and the Constitution is being destroyed before our very eyes. Either way we decide to interpret President Hinckley’s “personal opinion,” we can probably conclude that he wishes to support the constitutionality of government.

    But I see that during the years since his talk, the government’s violation of the Constitution has been very apparent.

  51. Russell
    August 22, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    @ Dan –

    You are quoting portions of this talk without giving full context. Read the talk again. He does not support the war. He makes general statements about the church’s position on supporting our government. He also lays out what is in the scriptures on war. This is ludicrous to believe that this talk condones the war in Iraq.

    You are reading this talk as though he is making a statement on his position, and that is not what he does. Why do you think the talk is called War and Peace? He DOES NOT condone the war in Iraq. He talks about war. He talks about times war has happened. He talks about the consequences of war.

    Then he says . . .

    “Where does the Church stand in all of this?”

    Hmmm. Let’s look at what he really says.

    1 – We recognize and teach that all the people of the earth are of the family of God. And as He is our Father, so are we brothers and sisters with family obligations one to another.

    Okay. Sounds good. Every person on the earth is part of the family of God. Part of the Church’s mission is to proclaim the gospel. It’s a gospel of peace.

    So, his next statement presents the “challenge” if you will.

    But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally. Those in the armed services are under obligation to their respective governments to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound and to which they have dutifully responded.

    Let’s go back to his question. “Where does the Church stand in all of this?” He told you where the church stands. a) Every person is part of the family of God. b) We are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. c) Military personnel “entered into a contract” to serve the country and they have done so “dutifully.”

    “Where does the Church stand in all of this?” (Not … “I support the war in Iraq.” Again, that is completely ludicrous to read into this that way).

    He then quotes scripture and presents again a “challenge” . . . a) “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” but we also believe b) that we are to “renounce war and proclaim peace”

    Yet again “Where does the Church stand in all of this?” (Not … “I support the war in Iraq.” He just told you again.

    In a democracy we can renounce war and proclaim peace. There is opportunity for dissent. Many have been speaking out and doing so emphatically. That is their privilege. That is their right, so long as they do so legally. However, we all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.

    The bolded part I believe is the part you have the problem with … You read the part about Nephites and Lamanites, which says “… there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression,” and ignored the rest about peace, praying for an end to the conflict,

    1) Peace.
    2) We are obligated to fight for family, liberty, against tyranny, threat and oppression.

    I’m still scratching my head on this …

  52. Carissa
    August 22, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    The doctrine of pre-emptive war is not scriptural

    This is true and this is probably the biggest conflict one would have to deal with if one interpreted President Hinckley’s words to mean that he approves of the war in Iraq (and I think one would have to interpret, either way). He never came close, however, to saying that he approves of pre-emptive war, only war in self defense and that it had been “adjudged” (by others) to be the case. It seems he is putting the responsibility on the shoulders of those in our government, rather than the people in general, who we now know were somewhat misled.

    So we “are under obligation to accept the teachings of the authorities, unless [we] can discover in them some conflict with the revelations and commandments the Lord has given.” There is certainly a conflict here if one interprets the prophet in that regard (of promoting pre-emptive war), so that might negate our obligation to accept that interpretation according to this quote. Although- there is a difference between “opinions” and “teachings”. I can’t really say we’ve been “taught” what to do on this subject.

    “There are times when the leading brethren have expressed their own opinions on various subjects… This they have a perfect right to do, but when the Lord has spoken through His servant who holds the keys there should be unity among the members of the Church”. Pres. Hinckley made it clear that he was expressing his own personal feelings and acknowledged other varying opinions. I didn’t get the feeling the Lord was speaking through him on that specific point.

  53. Russell
    August 22, 2007 at 4:57 pm #

    A thought . . . .

    Somehow there’s a belief that he refers to Afghanistan and that this conflict is a continuation of that. Not the case. Somebody edited his statement early on in the discussion. Reading the 2001 talk, you find the same. A conflict against terrorism, not Afghanistan.

    Whatever the case, I found the 2001 talk to be very prophetic . .
    “No one knows how long it will last. No one knows precisely where it will be fought. No one knows what it may entail before it is over. We have launched an undertaking the size and nature of which we cannot see at this time.”

    He goes on later . . . very prophetic.

    Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him. He has declared, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.

    Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

  54. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 4:38 am #

    Connor,

    Feel free to search my blog to back up your recollection. But unless you provide an example, I don’t know how you can say that I have done it. Perhaps I have, I do not recall. But unless you can prove otherwise, your assumption holds no merit.

    No problem. I take it back then. I don’t have the motivation to search around for something so trivial. I’ve made my point on this thread.

  55. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 4:42 am #

    Kelly,

    But I see that during the years since his talk, the government’s violation of the Constitution has been very apparent.

    You do realize, as Russell quoted, that President Hinckley counseled us back in October 2001 that some of our freedoms would be curtailed in this battle:

    Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another.

    It sure seems that President Hinckley supports Bush’s violations of the Constitution. He has had Bush visit him in Salt Lake City. He has allowed Dick Cheney to speak at BYU’s commencement. He’s visited Bush far more frequently than he has Clinton. He has not spoken out against these infringes on the Constitution, and he specifically stated in October 2001 that some of our “liberties may be curtailed.” Can you still attempt to spin that President Hinckley did NOT support Bush’s wars? Can you still attempt to spin that President Hinckley did NOT support Bush’s infringes on the Constitution?

  56. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 4:50 am #

    Russell,

    I think you misunderstood. If you read Carissa’s comment #11, she quotes John Widtsoe and Joseph Fielding Smith who both basically imply that we must take the counsel of a prophet more seriously than any other. It doesn’t matter necessarily if President Hinckley stated in 2003 his own personal opinion or if it was the policy of the church. According to John Widtsoe we are to follow their counsel anyways, because they are “smarter than us” or so the saying goes. President Hinckley’s personal opinion on the war in Iraq is that it was justifiable and proper. You can try and spin it all you like, but there it is. Should you not follow his counsel? After all, that’s what John Widtsoe and Joseph Fielding Smith say you should. If you take a completely different opinion than President Hinckley’s to a point where you support people who try to end the war, are you not going against his counsel? What did he say?

    It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.

    Does not supporting a candidate like Ron Paul go completely against this? You’re supporting a man who wishes to “impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.”

    Spin it like you want it, Russell, but President Hinckley was most definitely for the war in Iraq.

  57. Carissa
    August 23, 2007 at 7:06 am #

    Dan # 8

    What Ezra Taft Benson says politically is NOT the will and word of the Lord

    Dan #56

    President Hinckley was most definitely for the war in Iraq.

    Dan # 8

    Um, how nice of you to put words in the Lord’s mouth [or the prophet’s]. I would watch doing that

  58. Kelly Winterton
    August 23, 2007 at 8:15 am #

    Dan, you quote:

    “You do realize, as Russell quoted, that President Hinckley counseled us back in October 2001 that some of our freedoms would be curtailed in this battle:”

    Yep, and we see that their insight was definitely on the mark. Our freedoms have been curtailed through the Patriot Act, Patriot Act II, Military Commissions Act, wiretapping, and the list could definitely go on. This is just further evidence of my claim that because of the bogus War on Terror, our way of life is worse, not better.

    I think I’ll therefore proclaim that our Constitution and way of life is worse for it, not better, and just because church leaders foresaw this coming, doesn’t mean I should SUPPORT a degradation of the Constitution. I decry it.

  59. Yin
    August 23, 2007 at 9:04 am #

    Dan, you contradict yourself. On one hand, you claim to know when the prophet is speaking for himself, or as a mouthpiece for the Lord, even when that prophet has not clarified which he is doing. You insisted such in regards to Presidents Benson’s counsel, which was the start of this entire post.

    On the other hand, you’re now claiming that even when a Prophet states it is merely his opinion, we should still agree and follow their council, as you insist in the case of President Hinckley opining his support of the defense of liberty.

    So, which is it? I would think that more leeway is allowed when we know it is merely a personal opinion, and that following their words regardless should be reserved for when we don’t have that clarification. You’re doing it backwards.

    The point is, as Kelly pointed out, the church has always taken the position of political neutrality. We are all allowed our own opinions. The prophet is allowed his own opinion as well. But, that’s all it is. An opinion. Yes, we may want to give more heed to his opinion that we would any other man, but the fact remains, it is still his opinion, and we are counseled to come up with our own. Especially regarding political matters.

  60. Doug Bayless
    August 23, 2007 at 9:35 am #

    Since this discussion of Constitutional values has denigrated into a fresh fight over the ability to put words into President Hinckley’s mouth [and mind] about our military actions in Iraq . . .

    I think that perhaps the most astute observation here is Carissa’s when she notes:

    He never came close, however, to saying that he approves of pre-emptive war, only war in self defense and that it had been “adjudged” (by others) to be the case. It seems he is putting the responsibility on the shoulders of those in our government, rather than the people in general, who we now know were somewhat misled.

    I can’t pretend to know all President Hinckley’s sources on our foreign policy. Nor can I pretend to know what he feels about our current actions beyond the talks we are parsing and some other reported statements. But I do greatly appreciate his candor in explaining some of his thinking and how it was tied what our government leaders had “adjudged” and not special information or revelation. Most of us on this site are agreed that many of those ‘judgements’ were flawed at best.

    In all of scripture we see that the majority of the time God lets even our leaders struggle with their best judgement and incomplete information. Captain Moroni’s brutal (but inaccurate) dressing down of Pahoran in Alma 60 is just one example. In modern Church history we are perhaps more acquainted with such trials: Joseph Smith tended to good-heartedly trust all sorts of people that he should not have. Many current Church leaders trusted Mark Hoffman (as did many Government “experts” who bought his Americana forgeries).

    I, for one, am very grateful for a man like President Hinckley who is willing to state his opinions, put them in perspective of doctrine, and quite candidly share some of his process in arriving at those opinions – knowing that it can really matter. Short of direct revelation (and I don’t pretend to know Church leaders *have not* received any on the war) it would seem that good men like President Hinckley are thinking back to domestic opposition to fighting Hitler and wondering if it would have been better to stop him sooner.

    Regardless of how much President Hinckley trusts or doesn’t trust President Bush, VP Cheney, and their whole administration, I think his candidness on his thought processes and his honest openness to opposing views and dissent really wins my respect and admiration even apart from my normal respect for a Prophet that I would have based on my personal testimony of the gospel.

    Just my 2 cents.

  61. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 9:40 am #

    Yin,

    I’m actually with you in regards to how to view our prophets. I’m trying to show that the view Connor and his friends are taking doesn’t quite work out so well. If we are to take the counsel of the prophet even when it is his own personal opinion, then we’d better be supportive of the war in Iraq.

    What I’m trying to get Connor and his friends to realize is that the prophets don’t always speak the word of the Lord, and as such, you can be in much disagreement with them. See, I don’t agree with Ezra Taft Benson politically. And every time I say that, Connor and his friends whip out of their vast database all sorts of quotes from dead prophets saying how we should listen to our prophets even when they are speaking their personal opinion. I think that is a load of bunk. I will take what a prophet says into consideration when it is own personal opinion. But if it doesn’t match with how I see the world, I will disregard what he says. That’s the way it is for me and Ezra Taft Benson. I really don’t care what he says politically. I think he is wrong. Does that mean that I disrespect him as a prophet? Not in the least. President Hinckley was wrong about Iraq. Those were his personal feelings about the war. And it turns out that he was wrong. What that should show everyone is that the words of the prophets, when they are their personal opinion should not be held to the same standard as if they spoke the word of the Lord. But this is not what Connor and his friends say about the words of Ezra Taft Benson, Harold B. Lee and Reuben Clark. They treat those three prophets’ words on politics as scripture, chiding those who don’t agree with them for not following the counsel of the prophets.

    That’s the point I was trying to make in regards to President Hinckley’s support of the war in Iraq.

  62. Connor
    August 23, 2007 at 9:43 am #

    Dan,

    What Yin, myself, and others are trying to get you to understand is that it’s fine to disregard a Prophet’s opinion when he has explicitly stated it as such. But when a Prophet shares advice, counsel, or teachings without stating that they are his opinions alone, then they hold a greater weight that should not be so easily dismissed as you would like to do with anything political that President Benson ever said, since it doesn’t fit your “pre-conceived view”.

  63. Russell
    August 23, 2007 at 9:55 am #

    @ Dan

    Why do you continually lower the debate to meaningless and snarky comments like “spin it like you want ” and the one to Connor about how something’s got to bend. It’s useless and shows you have nothing to back up your arguments. It’s the classic Sean Hannity approach and one of the oldest and lamest forms of manipulation.

    If you can’t stand your ground, go after the individuals themselves . . . makes sense.

  64. Doug Bayless
    August 23, 2007 at 10:20 am #

    Now hold on a second everybody. No sense cursing and invoking Sean H—–y. Except for perhaps my dig against Sean, I see no sense in carrying on any personal attacks.

    I think, especially after seeing Dan’s response to Yin, that everybody is pretty close to the same page. Close enough that maybe we oughtta show some kindness.

    I think Dan is articulately voicing a pretty commonly felt frustration where an individual in the Church faces a group of people who quote like-minded Church leader ‘opinions’ on a subject and sometimes just expect everybody to fall in line (despite the opinion part, despite the existence of other Church leader quotes that don’t agree, yada yada yada). [All the Paul supporters have seen it plenty, I’m sure — just for a start.]

    That said, I think if and when that happens on Connor’s site it is infrequent and inadvertent. I feel like it is pretty clear and reasonable what he and others have said in this thread about such behavior and – consquently – probably a good conversation to have had.

    Now where’s all the “showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward [those] who thou hast reproved, lest [they] esteem thee to be [their] enemy.” ‘Cuz there’s been a bit of sharpness . . . [Hannity!] Ouch. ;]

  65. Carissa
    August 23, 2007 at 10:24 am #

    I will take what a prophet says into consideration when it is own personal opinion. But if it doesn’t match with how I see the world, I will disregard what he says.

    This is my hang-up with your stated method. No mention of praying about it, trying to have an open mind, asking for personal revelation, being patient, or re-evaluating our view of things. Just a (seemingly) automatic dismissal and disregard of anything that doesn’t match with “how I [already] see the world”. Maybe you do these things as part of your consideration process, I don’t know, but I think they’re important to note and you’ve made no mention of them. This process should apply to things that we easily agree with also, right? To get our own witness and not just blindly follow?

  66. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 10:53 am #

    Carissa,

    Right, I did not add how I judge things. I do indeed have an open mind, and do indeed ponder and pray about things very carefully. I try to listen to the Spirit as much as I can when I ponder on things of great import. And I end up thinking differently than Ezra Taft Benson when it comes to politics. I feel like you can indeed be a faithful member of the church and a liberal Democrat. He will not agree with me, but that does not mean one of us is wrong. However, he having been in a position of power and influence, he should have been more careful about what he believes personally. I think those words had a very detrimental effect on the direction of many latter day saints.

    I’m just glad our leaders today are much more open-minded about these kinds of things, to the point where President Hinckley has called Elder Marlin K. Jensen to work with members to have more members become Democrats, to even things up, to cause there to be some division in politics. This is something Ezra Taft Benson would never have done.

    Finally, Carissa, and everybody else here. I have no problem with you guys believing whatever you desire. It’s your free will and choice to believe whatever you want. But if someone comes on here and says that he does not agree with a certain prophet who says something politically, don’t harangue him for disagreeing with Rueben J. Clark or anybody else. We can disagree about the manner in which we apply our religion politically and still be fine religiously. These men, Reuben J. Clark, Ezra Taft Benson, Harold B. Lee and other like minded individuals do not have the market cornered on how to apply our religion in politics. You really CAN be a good faithful member of the church and believe in the principles of liberal Democracy (liberal as it is defined these days). It is actually my personal opinion that in fact you are closer to the real gospel of Jesus Christ as a Democrat than a Republican or a libertarian. But I’m sure you guys already knew I would say something like that. ;)

  67. Carissa
    August 23, 2007 at 11:49 am #

    Thanks, Dan.

    It is actually my personal opinion that in fact you are closer to the real gospel of Jesus Christ as a Democrat than a Republican or a libertarian

    Do you discuss this topic on your site somewhere? I’d like to see the breakdown of how you believe this to be true, if for no other reason that to better understand where you (and others) are coming from. I’ve never been a Republican or a Democrat and often wonder why people have such strong feelings about belonging to a particular party. Especially when the parties seem to change and evolve their philosophies over time.

  68. Michael L. McKee
    August 23, 2007 at 12:22 pm #

    We are closer to the real Gospel of Jesus Christ when we emulate the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Just how far we may progress eternally will largely depend upon just how far we are able to distance ourselves from pride and arrogance.

    Many individual decisions made during this crucial temporal sojourn will depend upon our ability to follow the Prophet. I believe the Lord has said that He would never permit any Prophet to lead His people astray, and He has kept His word as no prophet has ever done so. It has not happened in recent history, and it certainly did not happen during the times of President Ezra Taft Benson, Harold B. Lee, or David O. McKay. It is also factual that J. Reuben Clark, and even W. Cleon Skousen have left behind far greater contributions than some who are attempting to vilify and denigrate these men of God. I personally feel they deserve an apology from those whose scathing remarks have been so arrogantly posited at times during this conversation. While you certainly have the freedom to choose your words, you also may, at some point, hope to retract them. Fortunately for you, these men will not hesitate to forgive your foolishly evoked remarks. When you truly learn to emulate them, you will see the Lord leading them to their eternal reward. Let us all hope we are not too far behind them.

  69. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm #

    Carissa,

    Do you discuss this topic on your site somewhere? I’d like to see the breakdown of how you believe this to be true, if for no other reason that to better understand where you (and others) are coming from.

    I haven’t written about this on my blog yet. I guess I should. I think the reason I haven’t yet is because I really don’t want to tie my religion too much to political beliefs. But I will write up a post soon on how I see my Democratic principles fitting in with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  70. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 12:39 pm #

    Mr. McKee,

    When Ezra Taft Benson retracts his words that he thinks you can’t be a good faithful latter day saint and a liberal Democrat, then I will apologize. Until that point, my criticism of him stands as it is. You obviously take it as you like.

    Unfortunately you do not seem to see what the problem is, Mr. McKee. You think that by me criticizing them, I question their worthiness before God. I do not. They ARE INDEED good men of God. However, they have opinions that are not factual, but based more on their own pre-conceived notions about human beings. I’m sorry to say, but that’s how it is. And questioning those beliefs of theirs does not equate with questioning their worthiness before God.

    I am a man of God too, Mr. McKee. Will you apologize to me for all your scathing remarks towards me?

  71. Kelly Winterton
    August 23, 2007 at 1:00 pm #

    Carissa states that the parties have changed over the years. This is so true. The current crop of Neo-Conservatives that are vexing the Republican Party originated from the Democratic Party.

    The trouble with our current two-party system is that they are two sides of the SAME coin. The coin itself is in dire trouble.

    I find myself much more aligned with the “Democratic” plank in regards to foreign policy. But I don’t necesarrily think the current crop of Democrats could make our current foreign policy disaster any better. For us to improve our foreign policy disaster we must have a revolution from the grass roots, or elect someone like Ron Paul and get back to real Constitutional principles.

  72. Michael L. McKee
    August 23, 2007 at 1:36 pm #

    I am much too old to apologize to young folks who condescendingly refer to me as Mr. McKee as you and Curtis tend to do. Your lack of sincerity is blatantly obvious, and your arrogant posturing is only adding to my lack of respect for you. You see young man, I am uncomfortably aware of my lack of Christ-like attributes, and when I listen to you, I feel even less comfort.

  73. Doug Bayless
    August 23, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    Kelly,

    The trouble with our current two-party system is that they are two sides of the SAME coin

    I agree that this is very true and discouraging to me anyways. I’m more attracted to policies and principles than party and platitudes and as an example I really liked Obama for President for quite a while until I noticed that the warmongers are fairly party agnostic as well – no sooner had Obama gathered a following then key leaders of the Project for a New American Century (the ‘lets stop mincing around and just take over the world by force and do what needs to be done for the good of America’ folks) started backing him. And suddenly Obama’s making the point that he’s not against aggressive warmaking per se . . . just the Iraqi war specifically so far. And though I like his actual statements and reasoning far more than any of the Republican contenders (minus Paul) I worry he’s starting to move to where Kerry did when at the last minute of the ’04 elections he clamored to clarify that he would have done ‘nothing different’ regarding the build-up to and invasion of Iraq (!)

    Until we as a people start requiring accountability to more than just ‘think-tanks’, sound-bite ops, and corporate funding then we will keep getting what we’ve been getting regardless of supposed “party”.

  74. Curtis
    August 23, 2007 at 2:51 pm #

    Micheal Mckee,
    Sorry to have been interpreted as being condescending to you at some point here. I cannot afford to be condescending, but sometimes my pride gets the best of me.

    As for it not being in the program for the Lord to allow a leader to lead the Church astray, I think it was W. W. Woodruff who said that. I have never seen any scripture where the Lord has said that.

  75. Curtis
    August 23, 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    All,
    As far as democrats vs. republicans go… they’re all politicians in my book. You all should have voted for Nader with me the last 3 elections!

    I don’t think that the democrats or the republicans are going to have the answer to Iraq or Iran in the near future. I bet we will continue to follow our wicked ways with warmongering and destruction.

  76. Carissa
    August 23, 2007 at 5:21 pm #

    As for it not being in the program for the Lord to allow a leader to lead the Church astray, I think it was W. W. Woodruff who said that.

    And he was not the only one…

    Joseph Smith:
    I will give you a key that will never rust, if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.” quoted by James E. Faust, Nov 1994

    Brigham Young:
    You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth.” JD 9:289

    Harold B. Lee:
    God will never permit him [the living prophet] to lead us astray. As has been said, God would remove us out of our place if we should attempt to do it.” 8 July 1968

    Joseph Fielding Smith:
    I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord” Conference Report, Apr. 1972

    Ezra Taft Benson:
    Though his prophet is mortal, God will not let him lead his church astray.” May 1975

    Robert D. Hales:
    I know that in this day we have a living prophet of God who will never lead us astray.” Jan 1979

    Virginia U. Jensen:
    The Lord has given some marvelous guarantees without any disclaimers. And this is one of them: He will choose the prophet, and He will never let that man lead us astray.” Nov 1998

    M. Russell Ballard:
    Today I make you a promise. It’s a simple one, but it is true. If you will listen to the living prophet and the apostles and heed our counsel, you will not go astray.” Jul 2001

    Gordon B. Hinckley:
    I solemnly testify that the Lord Jesus Christ, whose church it is and whose name it bears, will never let any man or group of men lead it astray.” Nov 1993
    I make you a promise that the authorities of this Church will never lead you astray” The Six B’s (Be True) 2001

  77. Quiet Observer, UnIdle Witness
    August 23, 2007 at 8:27 pm #

    Dan, you misunderstand me a little too freely. In citing the Doctrine and Covenants, I knew those verses referred to the Missouri period. In Illinois, they did have too much political power “for their neighbors,” but not in actuality. (Yes, Joseph did run for president.) I was addressing the broader theme of Church unity. What I suggested by the Kirtland example is that many of your humanist-toward-prophets persuasion were among the first to be offended by something or other that Joseph said, and called him a “fallen prophet.” (“Wow. If he supported a failed financial venture, he must be unreliable. I just don’t know what to believe any more. Never mind the fact that I only weakly sustained him anyway.”) We’ve always had too many of that stamp among us (and apparently I must quickly clarify that I’m not calling for a purge). We have also always been told that we are our own worst enemy.

    You need not aver that my knowledge of history is woefully deficient. In fact, your habit of inverting names such as J. Reuben Clark’s, among still other minor demonstrations of inexperience with Church sources—besides fringy complainers—could draw far more attention than I will spare upon it.

    As for myself, and the ongoing thoughts on mortal frailty: “I did think, and I now think, that I am personally as well acquainted with my own weaknesses as any other mortal is with them, for this is my fortune, my good fortune and blessing, and I am ready to acknowledge that it is more than many have got” (Brigham Young, JD, 4:21). This is the most libelous thing I will say: may you be so blessed. You thump your chest and declare “I am a man of God too”: certainly not of the caliber of those you malign. Nor am I, but I have the decency to admit it. In fairness, at least you set it forth as your OPINION that “you are closer to the real gospel of Jesus Christ as a Democrat than a Republican or a libertarian.” So you would warp my every word on the need for Church unity for just such an assertion as this? (See 1 Cor. 3:3-13.) The only time you glory in Christ is when you conclude that He’s on your side, after giving repeated evidences of distancing yourself from His teachings and His servants. (See Matt. 10:40-41, with cross-references and Ether 4:8-10.) I emphatically refer everyone to D&C 121:16-17; lest some should contend that this refers to Latter-day Saints generally, I hasten to add that many prophets have not applied it so broadly. Elder Maxwell often gave the maxim that those who detract the prophets reveal more about themselves than the prophets.

    Let us cast the burden of proof back upon you. Setting us in an uproar of defense distracts from true points. Why don’t you find for us more of a genuine nature like what Elder Jensen said? You pointed gleefully to that same source twice in one small response, which is not very imaginative. I don’t exactly trust the Tribune’s coverage entirely, though I don’t doubt the core of what was reported. Perhaps you can locate more for all of us on this subject of great concern to the Church, so that we can lend strength to your particular political party. What I hear in this one minor press interview is not a call to vote Democrat, but a repetition of what we’ve always known and love in President Hinckley’s sentiments: political differences don’t justify hatred or ill will.

    Is it alright for you to say that Presidents Benson and Lee have “fought” against the official Church line, yet you can paraphrase statements made from a single news article as straight from President Hinckley, claiming he “authorized” each and every word? The way you first mentioned this source, I seriously wondered whether President Hinckley had established a political activism (or deactivism) committee and appointed Elder Jensen to oversee its efforts!! Even the somewhat cynical editors conceded that Elder Jensen was in the “third tier” of authority. A seventy carries no technical doctrinal authority as such—not that I cast aside what they say, but they cannot stand as a lone witness when set forth on matters of potent controversy. If Church curriculum is sometimes hesitant to utilize the Church News for quotes, since what the reporter wrote down hastily on the spot may not accurately reflect what the authorities intended for public consumption, how can we put our reliance upon this lone interview with a potentially jaded news staff? President Hinckley gave him a single assignment to respond respectfully to questioners in the community; no more, no less. It wasn’t prelude to a public awareness campaign; it wasn’t even a Conference talk. Many of us know how the press in question enjoys sensationalizing issues in Utah.

    You are mean-spiritedly charging lots of people here with “whip[ping] out of their vast database” contrary opinions. Might that not mean they have a store of gospel knowledge to draw upon, rather than one’s own sparse personal authority? They are turning their thoughts lovingly to what will serve us best, while you relish every little “tidbit” you can find to tear down the Lord’s anointed, and every person who dares to say a word in their favor. It is not that I can’t see their humanity, but that you can’t see their inspiration except when they agree with you. That, I tell you soberly and meaningfully, is dangerous in principle and practice—and lays one open to inspiration from the wrong source.

    Many here have given issues more thoughtful, careful, prayerful consideration than just sitting back and dismissing as uninspired everything that does not fit their own preconceived notions of the world (and then accusing others of that very deed). “Men may ridicule, they may scoff, but that does not constitute argument, nor evidence. They are the last arguments to which the vanquished always resort—ridicule, abuse, misrepresentation; and I suppose they will be applied to us” (Anthony W. Ivins, CR, Oct. 1923, 147). You are your own source. You cannot give the courtesy of locating Connor’s alleged “trivial” remark. Dart in, stab, run away; circle, looking for a weak spot, or some clever combination of words, stab again.

    It is a difficult art to debate properly, truly, yet many of your retorts have left much to be desired. Early on I detected your “arrogant posturing,” as Mr. McKee (and coming from me that IS a mark of respect) has pointed out. You replied that I was caught in the act of at least once NOT referring to the presidents of the Church by their title, again missing the point entirely. My admiration for them is not in question in the least; however, yours is by virtue of conspicuously total ABSENCE of such usage in context of all other public statements. There’s no quota to meet. Whatever one’s opinion of President Bush, who hasn’t picked up on the media’s way of touting “Vice President” Gore and immediately afterward referring to “Mister” Bush? It is a method of verbal demotion, admission that one in no way acknowledges someone’s right to an office, withholding of all loyalty. It is generally ruder than simply disagreeing. What’s more, in our society, referring to one by their first name is widely held to be disrespectful, when they are our elders or our Elders.

    Please show more respect…for everyone.

  78. Quiet Observer, UnIdle Witness
    August 23, 2007 at 8:33 pm #

    Curtis, this is addressed to your concerns—and not a rebuttal in the least. We could even find the harmony within warfare comments if we studied them consistently. In the original, it is apparent that Brigham was talking about the sort of civil wars and conquest that wracked America and Europe in the nineteenth century, when modern mass murder was coming into its own. Not all warfare is of precisely the same stripe, though no prophet would ever call it pretty or by any means a superior form of dialogue. Nor are those who find themselves participating ever to partake of the bloodthirsty spirit that prompts warfare among the nations.

    A First Presidency statement in April 1942 VERY MUCH sustains what President Hinckley said about men and women in uniform. Just one such phrase, among many: “God will work out in His own due time and in His own sovereign way the justice and right of the conflict, but He will not hold the innocent instrumentalities of the war, our brethren in arms, responsible for the conflict.”

  79. Dan
    August 23, 2007 at 9:50 pm #

    Quiet Observer,

    Just want to correct one thing:

    Dart in, stab, run away; circle, looking for a weak spot, or some clever combination of words, stab again.

    When I didn’t feel like digging for some comment Connor may have made, I took my comment back.

    As to the rest of your comments, there’s no need to reply. This would only get bad.

  80. Brandon
    August 24, 2007 at 12:51 am #

    Hey Dan,
    Do you really find this enjoyable? To an observer like myself you seem to be making your way through this message board with bodies in your wake. What satisfaction do you find in trying to prove people wrong? Not that I think you’ve done a good job of it, but you sure seem to be trying. Come on here, say your piece and then move on. You don’t have to go over and over the same arguments. Besides, your not going to convince anyone you are right when you mix veiled insults in with your arguments. Now, don’t get mad at me. I don’t know you. Maybe your an awesome guy. I’m just observing how you’ve come off in this and previous threads.

  81. Dan
    August 24, 2007 at 7:08 am #

    Brandon,

    Thank you for that good reminder. It seems I’m forgetting the real point of the Gospel, and should spend less time blogging and more time studying the gospel.

  82. joe
    December 29, 2007 at 12:34 am #

    Someone quoted the following :

    ““The “lay” members of the Church are under obligation to accept the teachings of the authorities, unless they can discover in them some conflict with the revelations and commandments the Lord has given.”

    What does this mean? I discovered a very interesting property of laws. If a law is a good one, it will reveal a reality . Some reality which may have been previously unconscious. When it passes, it places the citizens of a country a level of responsibility which was not previously there.

    In the case of equal rights, its a just law which explains that its good business practice not to discriminate on certain characteristics a person has. The responsibility of an employer is to obey that law as best as they understand it. If they do not they can be sued, but they also carry with them the natural consequences of not obeying the law, even if no legal action is taken.

    Sure you can dispute a law, its any persons right to challenge a law. But if you expect to have an influence, you should be prepared to present evidence which shows that its not fitting with the reality you observe.

  83. LukeAir08
    August 21, 2008 at 1:53 am #

    When Ezra Taft Benson testified in General conference (1988) that a secret combination was in the process of taking control of America and the entire world, he was speaking from inside knowledge as an ex Government official and from prophetic and scriptural knowledge. Its an indication of our perilous situation when so called Latter Day Saints will reject the words of the Prophets but willingly support secret combinations. Its the legacy of a persecuted people that they end up willing to do anything to be popular and accepted by those in power.

  84. LukeAir08
    August 21, 2008 at 2:02 am #

    Oh, and as for current Prophets. Here’s Pres. Hinckleys words:
    The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems.

    I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras.

    Pres. Hinckley says the Book of Mormon is as current as todays newspaper : Ambitious and scheming leaders – burdensome taxes – hollow promises – encourage loose and lacivious living – evil schemers – terrible wars – death of millions. Sound familiar? Time to wake up Saints!!

  85. ji
    September 30, 2008 at 9:43 pm #

    I’m a newcomer here — I don’t want to re-stir the pot. But I would like to observe that people can speak (or write) rather loudly and with shrill voices even when they likely agree far more than they disagree.

    Let me try to charactize the two thoughts I’m hearing as kindly and as Christian-like as I can:

    One party suggests that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are under obligation to seek the confirmation of the Holy Spirit on what they have heard taught by the heads of the Church, and acknowledges that sometimes a member might have a reasonable difference of opinion with one or more of the heads of the Church on a political matter.

    Another party suggests that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should trust the heads of the Church and follow their counsel on all matters, even political matters, as a matter of faith and support.

    Well, I can quote dead prophets in support of both of these sentiments. I won’t, because I don’t want to step into this fray and re-open contention. But I do want to express a thought that the spirit of brotherhood that should exist between Latter-day Saints isn’t always evident when they begin to quarrel. In my view, I sustain Dan’s notion that individual members may have differing political views, but I think he’s a little pig-headed in pushing so hard and calling the Utah Republican Party corrupt — maybe it is, I’ve never lived in Utah. And I appreciate Connor’s concern for sustaining the heads of the Church, but I think he’s a little pig-headed in his intensity in apparently insisting that the prophets require uniformity of political thought. Both have a kernel of right in their views; I caution each to be careful and kind.

  86. Brad Carmack
    April 18, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    Good call on the duty to know your constitutional law.

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