Your (not) Monday poll #5

In the past years we’ve had some very prominent members of the church, like Ezra Taft Benson, who are really right-wing people. Members of the church are obedient and followers in the true sense of the word, but these people have taken members of the church down the path that is the wrong path.

- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaking at BYU.

[poll=83]

Comments

  1. I’m the first voter!!! Yeeeaaaahhhhh!!! Anyway, I figure it’s usually kinda dumb to specifically point to a prophet as leading members of the church “down the wrong path.” I almost went with censured by the church, but I felt that might be going to far. He certainly would be rightly censured by other members of the church, but I don’t think it needs to be an official church action/statement.

    However, I do think that he didn’t mean that Pres. Benson was misleading the church while he was prophet. Yet using him as an example was pretty stupid, particularly if you want to try to reach out to Republicans. Oh yeah! So much for bipartisanship.

  2. Man, I hate that.

    Although I can understand the impulse to push back against a political culture that seems pervasive, the real problem is that the gospel has now been politicized. Partisanship simply has no place among us. I’m will to give Harry a pass on this because it wasn’t an official church meeting, but I gotta say that I hate, hate, hate, hate it when people think they need to broadcast their political stupidity in church by announcing their party affiliations. It is ridiculous, regardless of party.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    It’s not speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed to disagree with their political beliefs. Politically speaking, I believe Ezra Taft Benson (before he became President) tended to overpoliticize. Reid’s words were poorly chosen, indeed, as they can be read to mean that he thinks ETB led the Church astray — but I don’t think that’s what he’s getting at. In terms of the political impact on the latter-day saints, ETB may well have had a negative influence.

  4. In terms of the political direction ETB helped steer the church, and given my own opinion on said direction, I’d have to personally say it was the “wrong path” although I think this could have been worded better. It was, I think, part of the off-the-cuff Q&A.

  5. I was in attendance at the talk, and let me reiterate, the comment about ETB was not part of his speech to the assembled students and faculty, nor was it made during a public Q&A open to everyone who attended the talk. There was no public Q&A afterwards. Rather, the ETB comment was made off-the-cuff during a short press conference before or after. The original post is, I think, a bit misleading in this regard.

  6. I’m going to really date myself here, but when Pres. Benson was in line to be the next prophet, as a young college student, I was concerned about his right wing views and the impact they would have on the church when he became prophet.

    I finally found peace by reasoning that one of two things would happen. If he was right, he’d still teach those things as prophet, and I would have to reconsider some of my thoughts and political leanings. Or, he was wrong, and as prophet, he would no longer speak and teach on those things.

    Well, I’m still a Democrat and Harry Reid fan, so it’s perhaps redundant to say that to the best of my knowledge, Pres. Benson as Prophet focused on other things of greater importance. Take, as an example, condemning us (as a church!) for not reading and revering the BoM. I now appreciate the clarified understanding of grace that has developed in the church since his tenure as President. I have much greater admiration for Pres. Benson now than I did then.

    Interesting side note: While ETB dropped the political rhetoric as prophet, there was no shortage of others willing to repackage his previous writings, speeches, and sermons during his tenure to link the gospel with, to quote Ed Firmage, institutions of men that have within themselves the seeds of their own demise (meaning, I can only assume, all political parties). In that sense, there were many who, as Sen. Reid pointed out, were followers who already decided where they wanted to go, politically.

  7. Thanks Ronan! If it was off-the-cuff, then it makes a lot more sense why the word choice was as bad as I thought.

    Steve, I agree that is not what Reid was trying to say, which is why I voted not to have him censured by the church. As for ETB having a negative influence politically, that’s subject to debate. My conservatism isn’t based off of him, and I don’t think my parent’s conservatism was based on him, either. I must clarify here that my conservatism is probably closer to Ron Paul than to Pres. Bush.

  8. I know I should do my own homework here and check into the context of the quote, but am lazy/busy at the moment, so is it clear from the context that Reid is talking about ETB’s whole career or is it ambiguous or what? If Reid is talking about ETB as President of the Church, I will say unkind things about him, his family and anyone who voted for him. If he is talking about ETB’s entire career, then whatever.

  9. And, by the way, he’s right. Those “bunker apostates” who think “two year supply” refers to ammo as well as food, and who miss the McCarthy days, and who don’t think they have to pay income tax, treat ETB’s pre-prophetic political writings as section 139 of the D&C.

  10. ETB the man, had an incredibly negative impact on many Church member’s political thinking. He pushed the First Presidency during President McKay’s tenure to give the Church’s official blessing to the John Birch Society–an extremely right wing group. I think much of what ETB did politically prior to being sustained as President of the Church was negative and detrimental. The wrong path, was not so much the merits of his right wing political philosophy as it was making rank and file Church members think such a philosophy was sanctioned by the Church He probably should not have served as Sec. of Agriculture while as a sitting Apostle. Note, they don’t allow that any longer.

  11. StillConfused says:

    We are all entitled to our political opinions, but to say that one political leaning is leading people down the wrong path is just plain wrong. Such personal derogatory attacks are grossly inappropriate.

  12. If you read Senator Reid’s comment carefully, his criticism is more towards “right-wing people” who he believes have led the church down the wrong path.

    “these people have taken members of the church down the path that is the wrong path.”

    I highly doubt he was implying that President Benson, as prophet, led the church down a wrong path, but rather that “these right wing people” who have so strongly politicized our faith, are the ones who took the church down the wrong path.

  13. sooooooo right! woohoo! was too strong for me, so I had to go with “wrong but entitled to wrongness” where as I may have been more inclined to go with “sort of right, but yowza”

  14. ED # 8, and Jeremy, # 9,

    That’s the problem. Some of us can’t seem to get past our own personal perceptions on some topics. Certainly, anyone can have a personal opinion that differs from a current or former prophet, without being convicted of “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed”. And Jeremy, yes there probably are people like that out there, but I’m not so sure that ETB is reason. They probably just used his political ideas from his earlier life to justify positions they already believed in.

    When Sen. Reid says that the gospel has informed his political thinking, I’d interpret that as referring to the principles of charity and service. Someone else can look at the conservative viewpoint and decide that limited government and lower taxes are part of the concept of self-reliance and provident living. I’m sure that we could all find more examples, but let’s not blame ETB or Sen. Reid for all the wrong thinking in the world.

    All political parties claim to be the “Big Tent”, but in reality, it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the most encompassing of all people, regardless of their political views.

  15. You can read the transcript of the speech here.

    He defintely did not say this as part of his prepared speech. Many of the news outlets in Utah immediately seized upon this though and in most of the articles, make it seem as though it waspart of his official speech. Which is unfortunate, because of course, that’s what most republicans are going to focus on, rather than the merit of some of the great things he said in the speech.

  16. BTW, I did not mean to imply that charity or provident living, et al, were examples of “wrong thinking”, before I get slammed by both sides on this.

    When I understand the context that Sen. Reid was speaking to the reporters at a non-public press conference, he’s already kicked back into political mode, as he is entitled to as a Senator, and Majority Leader in the Senate. I’m not sure he is happy being quoted this way, but it is important to note that he did not go off the farm while he was speaking at the BYU public forum.

  17. In “The Mormons” I recall Elder Oaks saying it is not the position of the church members to question the LDS General Authorities. Will he be placed under some sort of restriction. Probably not, I think it would take more than one statement to do such things. He may be talked to and warned, but I doubt anything will happen other than maybe an apology from the Senator.

    Sen. Reid basically said Ezra Taft Benson was a false prophet with his statements.

    And please take a few lessons on unbiased poll creation, it serves no one but your own ego to create a poll that is bias.

  18. Chris, please take a few lessons on not being an ignorant prig.

  19. My husband’s personal bookshelf is lined with Bircher classics and an assortment of President Benson’s books. Early in our marriage this was a big deal, almost a deal breaker. My husband said that President Benson was the prophet and I should repent and stop being a socialist. I said that PB hadn’t taught any of his political views while a prophet and that they were definitely personal opinions.

    I remember hearing President Benson’s statement about being filled with love for all of God’s children regrdless of their political beliefs. I felt such peace. And I referred to the statement regularly during our early Family Home Arguments.

    As it turns out, DH stopped being such a bircher and I stopped being such a socialist. And peace once again decended from on high.

    In my experience, the phrase “wrong path” is always fightin’ words. A politician use fighti’ words? Oh, the shock.

    Jami

  20. Aaron Brown says:

    Guy Murray makes the important point in comment #10.

    Of course ETB’s pre-prophet political activities had an unfortunate impact on the way many Church members understand the relationship between Mormonism and American politics. You don’t even have to disagree with the substance of many of ETB’s political opinions to see that. Of course Senator Reid was NOT labeling ETB a “false prophet” in any meaningful sense. Are folks actually experiencing confusion on these points? Really?

    Aaron B

  21. LOL I don’t see how that really contributes to anything, but you made my day Steve.

    All I know a few months ago when I came across this blog, after reading through a bit of it I got the most disgusting feeling browsing through here. I haven’t come back since, but I figured, “Hey they will probably discuss this. Maybe there will be an actual free exchange of ideas.” But obviously I was wrong when I saw the poll and your subsequent comment.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    Aaron, to the extent Guy (as is his wont) was merely riding on my coat-tails in #3, I accept your compliment.

    I believe that the confusion on these points results from a deep-seated alignment between the Church and the Republican party. In my experience, it’s far more pervasive than most members tend to think.

    I should clarify — I don’t mean to malign either the church or the GOP by pointing out such an alignment. Indeed, on many issues of policy the alignment of interests is clear and may be appropriate. But it’s there, and undeniable.

  23. Chris,

    It is precisely this right/wrong black/white polemic that gets us in trouble. In your view, Sen. Reid is an apostate for saying that ETB held right wing views, and that many people followed him down the wrong path. Some might surmise that you read the poll, voted, and dropped straight to “Leave a Comment” without reading anything in between.

    A more nuanced approach might be to show us where Sen. Reid called Pres. Benson a false prophet. The late President Faust was politically liberal during his public career, and I believe at some point in his past a registered Democrat. Do you also think he called Pres. Benson a false prophet? The answer would seem to be yes from the logic you have used (or not used).

    You’ve essentially pulled a talk-radio stunt out of a statement, paid no attention to the context, and fitted the soundbite (soundbyte?) to your own preconceptions of Sen. Reid.

    Did you not listen to the press conference between sessions Saturday where Pres. Eyring talked about decision making in church councils? Does every disagreement leave us as apostates, subject to warnings?

    Try refining your arguments in a less sensational manner, and then highly-educated twits like Steve won’t call you an ignorant [prig].

    End of lesson # 1.

    [edited to update for Steve's revised insult]

  24. Nick Literski says:

    I can understand both reactions to Senator Reid’s words. When I was a strident Mormon (and a democrat), Utah’s republican Congressman Jim Hansen was interviewed by the Salt Lake Tribune. Among other things, he stated that the First Presidency “had no business” expressing political views, and specified Spencer W. Kimball’s opposition to basing the MX Missile in Utah as an example. At the time, I was militant enough to insist that he should be sitting in his stake president’s office, and that any “regular” member would have been read the riot act for such public statements.

    Not being a believing LDS anymore, I’m less inclined to react in that way. Of note, the First Presidency has recently made a point of stating that an elected official is not expected to tow the LDS church’s policy lines when performing his political duties. In so many words, politicians get a “pass.”

    Others, such as former BYU adjunct professor Jeff Nielsen, don’t receive the same privilege. Public criticism of actions/positions of LDS leaders is going to bring reprisals for the average member, especially if their employment is with an LDS church entity or held company (such as Deseret Book). Ultimately, “apostacy” seems to be partly dependent on clout.

  25. Aaron Brown says:

    Steve, it goes without saying that you are the fountain of all wisdom.

    It’s worth pointing out in this thread that in his (in)famous speech “14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet,” ETB asserted that prophets are not limited in their reasoning with respect to political matters (among other terribly robust claims). I’ve always assumed that ETB was laying the groundwork for the smackdown he’d imagine he’d dish out to his political opponents once he became THE prophet. Fortunately, once he got the job, he didn’t continue in that vein.

    That one “fundamental” in ETB’s speech perfectly captures how strongly he felt that deviance from his political orthodoxy was tantamount to religious apostasy.

    Aaron B

  26. Aaron, to the extent Guy (as is his wont) was merely riding on my coat-tails

    would that be the coat of many colors–political as it were?

  27. Steve Evans says:

    Guy, you have a distinct advantage over me: you can vote!

  28. you can vote!

    that can be fixed too

  29. Steve,

    Thanks for editing me.

    Chris, to quote you:

    “Hey they will probably discuss this. Maybe there will be an actual free exchange of ideas.” But obviously I was wrong when I saw the poll and your subsequent comment.

    One might draw a conclusion that your mind was made up before you got here that the exchange would not be free. Indeed, it has been pretty free, but if your world view is “any view but my view is wrong”, then it becomes harder to see the free exchange.

    Sorry for the smackdown, but both Senator Reid and President Benson are heroes of mine, and for different reasons. I demand respect for both of them.

    I’ve put my HC decoder ring back on, so my comments will be much more measured, and Steve won’t have to edit me for quoting him. I self edited my own emoticon.

  30. Steve Evans says:

    Guy, I’d have to become a citizen. Even I have my limits.

  31. Nick Literski says:

    Maybe Chris is the unnamed male BYU student who stood up after Senator Reid’s speech, shouting at the audience members, “Don’t be decevied by this man!” Class act, that one.

  32. #13 Matt has it right, except I nullified his vote. Sorry, brother.

  33. Chris (No. 17):

    I think that Reid was referring more to the members of the church who have assumed that following the prophet means chasing his various political rabbit trails than he was to President Benson himself.

  34. Nick Literski says:

    While ETB dropped the political rhetoric as prophet, there was no shortage of others willing to repackage his previous writings, speeches, and sermons during his tenure to link the gospel with, to quote Ed Firmage, institutions of men that have within themselves the seeds of their own demise (meaning, I can only assume, all political parties).

    Interestingly enough, there were also LDS arch-conservatives at the time who openly accused the other general authorities of “silencing” him, to prevent him from preaching the same politics as president of the LDS church. Some went so far as to say that ETB’s later poor health was a ruse, perpetrated by these “silencers” to achieve the ends of their “conspiracy.” Serious freaks.

  35. Steve (30), like we would have you.

  36. Nick,

    As much as I personally disliked Jim Hansen’s politics and track record during his seemingly endless run as Utah’s 1st District Congressman, I’m willing to give him a free pass on this as well. As a politician, the MX project was sure to be a huge boom to his home district, and he was anticipating the handing out of huge barrels of pork to his otherwise mostly ignored constituency. By ignored, I mean that Northern and Western Utah at that time had no economic clout, and mostly only Hill AFB as a national topic of discussion every time the base closings commissions convened. He was effective in defending jobs there, but there was little else to do for his district.

    I know a lot of folks in Utah viewed the First Presidency statement on the MX missile as a grave error, but in the long run, the proponents really were outnumbered even before the First Presidency statement.

    As to a double standard, I can only say that decisions like you describe, for many good reasons, are not made in public. From my own observation of church disciplinary councils, I truly believe the church has no choice but to remain silent, so we never know their side of the story. Criticism is likely to arise under those circumstances, and sometimes, as I have come to know, those decisions are occasionally reversed, but also in private and without comment. If it is a double standard, I could not tell you either way.

  37. Adam Greenwood says:

    The three crudely expressed options we have are:

    -right opinion and (impliedly) right to express it
    -wrong opinion but right to express it
    -wrong opinion and wrong to express it (note that the wording of the poll is designed to drive down support for this option)

    There needs to be a fourth: right opinion but wrong to express it.

  38. Adam Greenwood says:

    Guy, I have to become a citizen. Even I have my limits

    And we have ours.

  39. Adam Greenwood says:

    I think we should read Senator Reid’s remarks with the same kind of charity and understanding we gave to Sister Beck.

  40. Adam,

    Did i just hear the sound of metaphorically being slapped in the face? :)

  41. Ardis Parshall says:

    I taught Harry Reid’s sons in Primary when they were 8 or 9 years old. L. and K. were two of the brightest kids I’ve ever known — you always knew they knew the answers because of the slight smile, but they were not showoffs and took turns participating. They knew the scripture stories inside and out and could quote or at least paraphrase a lot of scripture.

    That’s not something that can be put on for show. The Reid family had regular Family Home Evenings and/or scripture study, and they taught the gospel to their kids.

    Whatever the merits of his politics, I have no doubt — both from contact with his children and from years-long family experience in the Las Vegas 28th Ward — that Harry and Landra Reid are as sincere Mormons as they come, and that Harris is a good, honest, faithful man, not in the habit of disparaging church leaders-as-church leaders.

  42. Ardis Parshall says:

    I dunno how “Harry” was transformed to “Harris” in that last comment — must be a right-wing conspiracy, no?

  43. Nick Literski says:

    #36 kevinf:
    In hindsight, I absolutely understand what you’re saying about economic benefit, etc. As I noted, I was rather “militant Mormon” at the time, and was quick to condemn Hansen speaking up. I regret that attitude, and only mentioned it to point out that I can understand why some would feel strongly about Senator Reid’s statement. I should mention, however, that Hansen gave the interview in question in the mid-1990s, long after the issue was dead (then again, so was Spencer W. Kimball–maybe that made a difference?).

    You also make a good point, of course, about the privacy involved in “counselling” LDS members. Sadly, this is also sometimes dependent on “clout.”

  44. Adam, I think that’s a good observation. There does need to be that fourth option.

    My husband loved Harry Reid’s talk (which I haven’t yet heard). From everything Bruce has told me about it, I am really looking forward to listening. Apparently, Reid was pretty Mormon–and had breakfast with The Brethren before the devotional.

    I don’t know President Eyring’s political leanings, but I do remember when President Faust was asked about being a democrat. He said he had ceased to worry about party affiliation long ago, and was far more concerned about simply doing good.

    (Adam, the word you want is IMPLICITLY. But, again, I think you make a good point.)

  45. Ardis, the key word is “vast”.

  46. My husband has a strikingly relevant quote on his blog. I’ll just give the link and let anyone interested look at it there:

    http://faceofother.blogspot.com/

  47. Chris–My husband gets an oogy feeling here too. I say don’t look. I think a bunch of really educated mostly Mormons arguing mostly politely to be quite interesting. I like being able to say what I think. So far no one’s deleted your comments so it seems to me that a free exchange of ideas is happening.

    However, I must go. Watching mom become addicted to a blog is not what I had in mind when I chose to home educate the kids.

    TTFN.

  48. Adam–That’s President Beck. A little respect, please.
    :)
    J

  49. I admire Bro. Reid tremendously, even though I disagree with as much of his politics as I agree with him. I also think too many Mormons equate political philosophies with religious doctrines – and I love Pres. Faust’s attitude toward politics.

    I don’t think Sen. Reid was criticizing Pres. Benson as a prophet – not based on everything I know of the man. In the context of the actual sentence he uttered, it is pretty clear to me that he was talking about “members of the church” – not Pres. Benson.

  50. “BCC: creating oogy feelings since 2003!”

  51. PS. I am not surprised one bit that the Tribune chose to interpret the remark as it did and publish the headline it did – not surprised one bit.

  52. @Kevin

    Unlike some people I am willing to assess things in a different way rather than standing strong to a wrong view point. Maybe he was taken out of context. Senators are under great scrutiny. Imagine your every word being quoted and not being able to slip up or be taken out of context. Perhaps Senator Reid didn’t mean what I thought he intended initially. I personally would like to see the tape of it and judge for myself, but of course, that won’t happen.

    [Paragraph removed due to accusations of personal unrighteousness.]

    Do I still think he is out of line? Yes. To politicize a dead prophets role in the church and say the only reason why there is a large population of Republican Mormons is due to the political leanings of ETB is absurd. Maybe he should look at his parties and personal stance on abortion, gay marriage and welfare. He obviously knows deep down that those two beliefs aren’t the correct ones. Why else would he try minimize its significance when he visits a state that just happens to be the most prominent for his faith and that same faith taking an official clear political stance against the issue.

    I might also add that perhaps if this was a Orin Hatch saying that Faust led the church in the wrong path (or led people to become democrats as well) because he was an active democrat, would you feel the same way you do? “Woohoo!”?

    And my apologies to Ronan, I shouldn’t have been a jerk.

  53. #47 Jami

    Thanks, I am not condemning the blog. I’m just saying it probably not the place for me at that particular time.

    I do still think some of the subjects approached can be dangerous for some. Don’t want to go the way of the likes of Oliver Cowdery and so many after him. If it can happen to him, then it can easily happen to me being a man of much less stature. :)

  54. I wanted to vote so BADLY, but I couldn’t find the right hole for my peg! By throwing ETB’s name in there as a fer-instance I felt I’d be voting that he (and others), could have possibly led us astray while prophet. I do believe lesser GAs have historically taken advantage of their positions to broadcast apocryphal pet beliefs, but the mantle of prophet puts the kibosh on such shenanigans. But that’s just me.

  55. Chris,

    Well, let’s see. Senator Reid is strongly pro-life (as am I), in spite of much of the Democratic party leadership making abortion rights a virtual litmus test. If you look at his voting record, you might be surprised. I think that he got to be where he is because he is a man of high character. Read Senator Smith’s (R-Oregon) book about the suicide of his son from depression, and you begin to see the private compassion of Sen. Reid, and others from both sides of the aisle.

    You need to understand that I am a faithful member of the church first, and then a Democrat. There is much diversity of opinion out there, but the majority are here because they love the church.

    The bottom line is that the gospel really does transcend politics. They are not the gospel, even though we find in them some principles from time to time that seem to mirror gospel principles. We need to recognize that sense of reflection. They reflect gospel principles, they are not the source.

    Hypothetically speaking, I would allow Orrin Hatch the same leeway as Sen. Reid. Hatch, BTW, is a strong proponent of expanding federal funding for stem cell research, a decision he publicly said he came to after much study and prayer. That also is an issue that is usually considered to be a litmus test for Republicans. In the final analysis, I certainly recognize that neither the GOP or the Democrats have any lock on virtue. Same goes for the Greens and the Libertarians. All institutions of men, with at least a branch office in the Great and Spacious Building.

    Politics is a gray world, with not very many well defined borders. And my apologies to you if you felt you were attacked by me earlier, (perhaps I did), so I am trying to soften my tone. Your tone still comes across to me as a bit strident. Where did the “Woohoo” come from?

  56. Reid was quite tame compared to Hugh B. Brown’s (and other GA’s) criticisms of Ezra Taft Bensons extremism.

  57. Chris #52, on the substance, I think you’re being a bit slippery here. If Ezra Taft Benson’s role in our church is politicized, that was done not by Harry Reid or any one else who is still alive. Instead it was done by Ezra Taft Benson himself. Benson freely chose, using his own agency, to engage in politics. Indeed, he chose in the 1960s to persist in giving political speeches in General Conference and other fora even after he had been reprimanded by his priesthood leaders and by the rest of his quorum. Benson was not the president of the church at the time that he did this, and it’s intellectually slippery to extend the halo of his work in one part of his calling to cover other work he did that has never been unanimously accepted — by the church rank-and-file or by the highest leadership — as a legitimate part of his calling.

    Is Reid right in seeming to claim that Benson and other similar leaders caused Mormons to become overwhelmingly Republican? Probably partly, although I think he’s mostly wrong. The most similar states that aren’t overwhelmingly Mormon are nonetheless very Republican indeed; Utah might be a bit more Republican, but not too much. That partisanship is probably due to regional culture at least as much as our religion.

    Are you right, Chris, in claiming that Democrats have an obviously wrong position on abortion, gay marriage, or welfare? No. A clear majority of Democrats takes a stand that is in full keeping with the Church Handbook of Instructions’ position on abortion: it should be legal, safe, and rare. That stand is fully consistent with the church’s position that abortion is a moral evil; please take note of the “rare” part. But it’s a coherent and plausible position to claim that something can be a moral evil and nonetheless the best public policy response is not to criminalize it. Such a moderate but church-consistent position is the majority stance among Democrats, both party leaders and rank-and-file voters. On gay marriage, the most common Democratic stance is that civil unions should be made available but that marriage should be kept as a relationship offered only to a man and a woman. This is also in full consistency with the church’s positions, and in fact basically resembles the compromise position that the church saw as a successful outcome of the gay marriage controversy in Hawaii during the 1990s. On welfare, the Democratic party cooperated with the Republican party to dramatically curtail that program during the 1990s. I think that decision was a mistake; be that as it may, it’s clear that the church has no position on these issues one way or the other. Church members in countries with serious welfare programs — something America does not have — take advantage of government social services and vote in favor of parties that seek to protect them while remaining in good standing with the church and often holding leadership positions.

    Note also that Reid didn’t say Benson led people down a wrong path by promoting Republicanism — but rather by promoting the extreme right-wing stances of the John Birch society, a set of policy positions that today fall outside the normal American political spectrum.

  58. I haven’t had time to read every comment, but I searched for link or quote, and can’t find exactly where this quote comes from.
    Do we have Reid’s address in it’s entirety? Or the link to the Trib article? It sounds so out of context. . .
    BTW, I am with Steve and Margaret in thinking Chris’ comment should be deleted, or he should have the opportunity to rewrite it.
    I like Sen. Reid a lot, and think that he should be respected in this forum.

  59. Jessawhy,

    You can find the link on the right sidebar under LDS headlines. Or you can look here.

  60. JNS,

    Of course you are correct in the Handbook. I am pro life in that I also believe abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. However, my perception, perhaps wrong, is that such a subtle difference would have been lost on Chris.

    I did it again. Steve, you need to smack me down when I start going off like this. It is absolutely not like me. Perhaps Bizarro Kevin should make an appearance here, so that I don’t take things so seriously. Oh, wait, the parsing function of my decoder ring has been turned off. I’m okay now.

  61. Don’t want to go the way of the likes of Oliver Cowdery and so many after him

    had no idea Cowdery and the likes had been BCC lurkers.

  62. Memo to Harry Reid:

    Ezra Taft Benson was the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the Lord Jesus Christ – not just a “very prominent” member. End memo.

  63. #52–I guess Chris wasn’t around when the @ was thoroughly disparaged.

  64. Chris,

    My apologies. I hope that you haven’t taken this personally, although at times that must be how it sounded. This is what the CS Lewis quote was about that Elder Teh quoted in conference, and that Bruce Young talked about.

    I have been slinging my malevolence out to the circumference where it impacts me the least, and ignoring much of what affected me so heavily in conference this weekend. I can be a better person, and so I am back on track now.

    See what politics does to you?

  65. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Cordeiro,

    I thought we established long ago in the comments that Pres. Benson, whom I revere for just the very reasons you describe, dropped the political rhetoric when he assumed the position of Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.

  66. I am not saying that I agree with everything that Chris has had to say, but I would ask that those on this forum consider the comments that were made about VP Cheney when he visited BYU before calling for deletion of comments. Did you call for any of those comments to be deleted?

  67. Steve Evans says:

    timshel, we did so call, and they were.

    (coughs, awaiting timshel’s response)

  68. Question to all:

    We are (rightly) offended when Chris identifies one of the U.S. political parties as being completely opposed to the gospel.

    Sen. Reid Made this statement:

    I’m a democrat because I’m a Mormon.

    Is that simply a less offensive way of attempting to identify one’s own political peculiarities with the gospel? If Chris’ comment pegs the indignation meter at 100, where does Sen. Reid’s comment register?

    By the way, have I mentioned how much I hate the conjunction of religion and politics?

  69. Mark #68, a very good question. Should we be offended by Reid’s statement? I don’t think we should, not at all. Mormons’ political stances ought to flow out of their religious convictions. The jujitsu move comes in realizing that there are many ways to politically realize a moral world vision.

  70. By the way, have I mentioned how much I hate the conjunction of religion and politics?

    They were much more conjoined in Nauvoo than they are today.

  71. Mark IV – Yes, you did, back at #2!

    Jessawhy – I don’t like Mr. Reid’s politics, but your point of respect is quite accurate.

    BCC theme song: “Let’s dance, Boogy-oogy-oogy! let’s dance! . ..”

  72. Bizarro Kevin,
    Cordeiro’s comment would be accurate if “a” had replaced “the” in the statement about ETB. His right wingery was in full swing when he was an Apostle and thus A Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.

  73. Kevinf:

    “the MX project was sure to be a huge boom to his home district”

    This is one of those wonderful typos that belong in The New Yorker’s “Words of One Syllable” department.

    Jami

    “That’s President Beck.” I’ve seen comments to this effect in other threads recently, and I don’t know where they’re coming from. The general auxiliary presidents (at least the females) have from time immemorial been referred to as Sister ____, and not as President _______.

  74. That’s exactly my point, JN-S. Our discourse has become so corrupted, with plenty of blame to go around, that it has become difficult for us to imagine people with differing political attitudes being morally superior to ourselves. We are stuck with assuming that my way = the_one_and_only_good_way. That is probably the reason for my intense frustration.

  75. Mark # 68,

    Yeah, I really wish Senator Reid had not mentioned President Benson the way it has been reported, if for no other reason than it fans the flames like we have seen today. He could have used generic terms, and not identified individuals. Then I wouldn’t feel like crap, like I do right now. I shouldn’t have let a newbie get me going, and I shouldn’t have been sarcastic.

    Most of us don’t do well when we try to align politics and religion.

  76. Costanza, every time I see your moniker I think of George’s excellent answering machine message, and of when he tried to make his name a mnemonic by substituting it in the phrase “by Mennen.

    Continue. And your comments are of course excellent.

  77. Boon, boom, another evidence of the typing dyslexia of advancing middle age.

    Costanza, I was fully thinking about “the” vs “a” when I made the comment. To me, it is a significant difference.

  78. Steve,

    I think I left my big fur hat at your place. Can I come and get it?

  79. When ETB was made president I was worried. The Birchers were clearly nuts with all kinds of weird ideas about secret societies, etc. Benson even contributed Church funds to the JBS. Wrong path, you bet.

    Even ETB reconsidered in the end. When he was made president, I was expecting thunder from the right, but, no, not even a whimper. The reason, after careful consideration, was that the Church was making rapprochement with the East Germans. Benson could not afford to confront the communist regime across the wall.

    So, if ETB finally reconsidered his right wing leanings for pragmatic purposes, so can I. He was wrong before and came to his senses in the end. He agreed with me and with Reid.

    This is to say nothing of the fact that he became president of a church with substantial membership in socialist countries like England, Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, etc., and now Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary … Many of the members of the Church in these countries like the socialized care. ETB could not afford to make official statements to offend them.

  80. Antonio Parr says:

    I interpret Reid’s comments to apply to ETB before he became the President of the Church, since President Benson did not, to my knowledge, make any right-wing comments whatsoever after becoming the President of the Church. If he were attacking President Bension the PS&R of the Church, we may be justified in crying “foul”. If, however, he was merely talking about the politics of a fellow member of the Church, then we should all acknowledge his right to do so. Since he was clearly doing the latter, there is no need for anyone to call for his excommunication . . .

    (Unrelated — what’s up with the smackdowns that take place from time to time on this blog? Civil discourse isn’t that hard!)

  81. Word up Antonio.

  82. Parr,
    I’m going to smack you down. Had ETB expounded John Birch doctrine even as President, I’d still be happy with Reid. But I’m one of the oogies.

  83. Guy, I’d have to become a citizen. Even I have my limits

    Plus, there’s that felony conviction.

  84. Arrests aren’t convictions!!

  85. Aaron Brown says:

    Who knew that the John Birch Society had a blog?

    http://www.jbs.org/birchblog

    Aaron B

  86. So, if the Right has a message from God, should ETB not made an issue of it as the president of the true church? If the political right was a moral imperative should the prophet of God not used all his ecclesiastical muscle to drive that point home?

    His obvious silence says it all. It was not an absolute. Benson could live in equilibrium with communist East Germany and with the Democrats.

    Or do you think God and his prophets should be silent on important moral points? And are politics important moral points? Does God care?

  87. [threadjack re: Steve's felony arrest record deleted]

  88. Mark

    I actually refer to her as Sister Beck too. I like her, respect her and have thoroughly enjoyed her past talks as a member of the YWG presidency. The “President Beck to you, mister” was a joke, poking gentle fun at all of the chatter about how we should be refering to a general officer of the church while we rip apart her talk. That’s why I put a :). Maybe I’ll try :D (colon D-just in case that didn’t translate) to indicate that I am attempting humor. Or perhaps I’ll just say, “Please read on for a wry, humorous comment.” :D

    Jami

  89. walkinginthewoods says:

    there seems to be an assumption on this thread that everyone is either or . . .

    one is either Republican or Democrat . . .

    what about the nonpartisans? Of whom there are quite a few disappointed cynics–

    What about those who see every political situation in the WORLD as much more complex than conservative versus liberal?

    What I wouldn’t give to go back to such an innocent world . . .

    to believe that you could tell who the good guys were by the color of *their* hats–
    *sigh*

  90. A total threadjack:

    Speaking of the John Birch Society, does anyone know where I could get a copy of an old film called _Civil Riots_? I have looked everywhere.
    It was shown at BYU in 1965. (Varsity Theater)

  91. Steve re: 67

    Fair enough. I appreciate the consistancy.

  92. I don’t consider my comments to be all that controversial. They are far less polarizing then what Harry Reid himself made during the press conference. Railing on a dead guy that can’t defend himself? And not just some dead guy, but a man regarded by Mormons as being appointed a Prophet of God. Again, Elder Oaks in his interview in “The Mormons”, in the segment about the educated elites being ex-communicated for their criticisms toward LDS leaders, He said that it is not the place of members to be questioning and criticizing the leaders of the church. Its good wisdom, they should be accountable to the Heavenly Father and Him alone. You start questioning them and next goes your Faith. Its one of the powerful tools of Satan.

    I am by no means Republican, belong to no party and will say that they (Republicans) engage in the same tactics as the Democrats. But it doesn’t mean that Harry can’t choose the higher road and actually do some good for this country, rather than tear it apart.

    What do you think would be the greater thing to do? Try to establish peace among the nation or keep dividing us further apart. He has the power to do that, but his Democratic blinders keep him from doing it. I can’t respect a man that promotes a cause to further divide this nation. I have heard good stories about him in his church service and personal life though and I’m sure he leads a good life. But me, not being involved in politics, can honestly say I would take a different path than Harry, not because of my politics, but because of my conviction to the truth.

    Look at Mitt, he tries to be agreeable and avoid confrontation unless necessary. Tries to keep a smile on his face and bring unity while still holding to his values and opinions. He gets lambasted for him faith, when Harry is hardly mentioned. Mitt has his flaws, Harry has his as well.

    Lastly, If you are looking to keep out the same trolling that is prevalent over the rest of the internet, then go ahead and delete them. It’s clear my viewpoint is not shared by many here and is causing dissension. Among other circles, my comments would be well received without as much as a hiccup, but the internet being a haven for liberal ideologies and this blog in particular, I am not. I will be gone after this topic, so you have no need to worry about me causing further disruptions.

  93. Ok, I’m slightly confused.
    The Mark Brown who wrote the “I used to speak in General Conference” post is the same as Mark B. or Mark IV?
    (sorry for this threadjack, but I was confused on the other thread as well)
    PS. Mark IV, thanks for the link.

  94. Margaret–I probably can find you one. I’ve got JBS connections. Ooo-ah.

    BobW–“The Birchers were clearly nuts.” Well, as I mentioned my husband has a shelf full of Birch books, and he still gets a monthly newsletter. I too thought the ideas crazy (and heartless) when I first heard about them. But I read. I attended a few meetings. I asked questions. I pointed out what I saw as serious flaws in their thinking. I still don’t agree with almost any of their ideas, but I understand them. “Clearly nuts” is not the phrase I’d use to describe their organization. Passionately self-righteous, absurdly idealistic, and not so hot at PR are phrases I’d chose before “clearly nuts.”

    A registered decline-to-state gal,
    Jami

  95. Steve Evans says:

    Chris, I agree that your comments should not have been worth a hiccup, and I welcome the fact that we need not worry about you causing further disruption. May you continue well in the circles where your comments are well-received.

  96. I very much enjoyed the prepared speech he gave. I admired his courage to state his political views, which definitely did not always seem to be along party lines. If you can get a hold of the main body of the speech, I would recommend it.

  97. To Chris:

    I think “Democratic blinders” is an inflammatory phrase, for which you give no concrete blinders. I hope you’re not equating Democrat with evil.

    “I can’t respect a man that promotes a cause to further divide this nation.”

    Which cause? Pro-life? Pro-peace? Pro-environment?

  98. Maybe someone has addressed this already (sorry if that’s the case), but how can people say that Sen. Reid has misguided views when he unequivocally said he is pro-life? Sigh.

  99. Haven’t read the comments so I may be off-topic.

    Seems to me that such a comment by Senator Reid may have detracted from an opportunity that he had to truly inspire on outside of Conference, the Church’s grandest stage, members of the church to excellence in public service. Instead, he made the provocative comment that a Prophet of the Lord lead His church’s members down the wrong path. Sure, there are those that are so fed up with the Church members’ tendencies to side with the GOP that such a statement seems like mana from heaven. Though I think there is too much blind faith in the “right” within the Church I was saddened to hear Senator Reid come out and say what he said and equate his being a [D]emocrat to righteousness and commandment-keeping. And saying what he said about a prophet of God. He kind of took the bait, went on the defensive, and lost quite a bit of credibility when he could have hit a home run.

    Too bad. Could have been great.

  100. Mark Brown says:

    Jessawhy, # 93,

    Mark Brown and Mark IV, c’est moi.

    Mark B. is Mark B. He is probably appalled that he might sometimes be mistaken for me, but has been remarkably civil about it all.

    Many of us here use a couple of different nicks. I think Kristine started it all when she started posting anonymously under the handle of BRM.

  101. Chris,

    I will only say that Senator Reid, IMO, is not the dividing influence in this nation. Anything more than that, and I’ll be sorry.

    I will grant you that politics requires a different mindset and ability than most of us are comfortable with. I do not automatically assign negatives, though, to every politician that I disagree with. Read Profiles in Courage by JFK (his idea, mostly written by his aide, Ted Sorenson) for a good discussion about compromise in political life, and the real life examples of some folks who really did stand up for what they thought was right, even at the expense of their political careers. Would that we saw more of that these days.

    I have to smile a bit about your comparison of Mitt Romney with Senator Reid, obviously the two most visible Mormons in politics right now, and from opposite sides of the political spectrum, yet really not that different in many others. Look closely, and you’ll see Gov. Romney has struggled with many of the same issues in politics, and some might accuse him of many of the same failings you accuse Senator Reid.

    Lastly, it appears that only some comments about someone’s personal righteousness were deleted, and not your entire quotes. While you have raised some hackles, no one yet has specifically branded you a troll.

    I have to go along with Mark, politics and religion don’t mix well, and as I have proven today, it’s the most likely area for me to act in un-Christian like ways. Like I say, I am trying to build on the experience of conference to help me be better. Good luck in your world.

  102. #95Steve

    I never did anything to you. I don’t see how your antagonist tone really contributes at all. But you still have me laughing calling me an ignorant prig. Constant chuckles for many hours and best yet, more chuckles still to come. That was classic and should never be deleted, ever. For that I love you man. I think I’m going to print it out and frame it, you don’t mind do you?

    #97Portia

    No that was not a jab at the Democratic party, but rather me stating he is loyal to his party and it gets in his way. You could replace “Democratic” with Republican or Sponge Bob Square Pants if that was his particular hindrance.

  103. Chris

    You and I keep promising to go away. And yet…

  104. Nick Literski says:

    Again, Elder Oaks … said that it is not the place of members to be questioning and criticizing the leaders of the church. Its good wisdom, they should be accountable to the Heavenly Father and Him alone. You start questioning them and next goes your Faith. Its one of the powerful tools of Satan.

    Chris, if questioning the actions or words of church leaders destroys your faith, then there wasn’t much to your faith in the first place.

    Statement 1: “You’re not to question that what I say and do comes from deity.”
    Question: Why not?
    Statement 2: “Because I’m telling you that deity says you’re not to question me, and when I speak, it comes from deity.”

    Pretty scary logic, if you ask me.

  105. Does the Sponge Bob Square Pants Party hold their precinct meetings at the Krusty Krab? I am so in!

  106. Let’s leave Chris alone. He’ll be leaving us alone from now on. Chris, as a final comment to you I can tell you that my #95 was not meant antagonistically, but rather as a cheery good-bye. Good luck out there.

  107. Tried to post this earlier. Must have gotten lost.

    This was Senator Reid’s opportunity on, outside of General Conference, the Church’s biggest stage to inspire members of the Church to public service in whatever capacity they see fit. Instead, he went on the defensive, trying to make what is a time-honored bunk argument that somehow political party affiliation has anything to do with personal righteousness, and squandered his credibility.

    Really is too bad. Could have been great.

  108. I have to say that I admire President Fausts feelings on politics as has been stated above. I myself don’t feel that I can feel at home in either political parties and I sometimes wonder if politics is really just a diversion from the real battle that’s going on. As President Faust stated that he just worries about doing good. This diversion seems to be getting bigger and bigger as people spend more and more efforts in political areas.

    I can certainly understand why Alma chose to leave his political position in order to go preach the gospel. I don’t feel the answer to this worlds problems lie in politics but in virtue and good which I believe can be found in both parties. I can also understand why Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world and would have no part of his own political climate. His work transcended politics and the issues of his time.

    It drives me nuts when I hear people say that Jesus would be a republican or a democrat. His message is far greater than any political platform. I’ll get off my soap box now.

  109. I’m all for moderation, but how does a comment that I think Senator Reid squandered an opportunity to inspire Church membership with his high political stature get bounced? I ask out of mere curiosity and without an ounce of vitriol. :)

  110. Isn’t it wonderful that a church can house Sen. Reid and Sen. Hatch – and Chris and Steve and kevinf and the rest of us?

    Jami, thank you for your sincere efforts to contribute constructively.

  111. I am reminded of Grover from Sesame Street, would occasionally cover his eyes with his hairy arm, and say, with his slightly Puerto Rican accent, “I am so embarrassed”.

    Jami, Ray, Mark, Steve, et al, thanks for being the grownups today. I got a little too involved in eating the dirt in the playground, and then flung a little in frustration. Back to normal breathing.

  112. RE: kevin (104)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/20/politics/20sponge.html

    lol

    apparently there’s a least an anti-SBSP party.

  113. Eric Russell says:

    I can’t believe I just sat here and read all hundred some comments. This thread is incredibly boring. Except for this bit about Steve and a felony, can we talk about that some more?

  114. “Elder Oaks saying it is not the position of the church members to question the LDS General Authorities.”

    Wasn’t it established that this quote was taken out of context and that he didn’t really say it was never okay to question the authorities?

  115. Steve rules.

  116. Rumor has it that comment #115 was edited. Some say it originally read*,

    rd, I’m a permablogger and the spam filter occasionally eats my comments, too–don’t take it personally.

    (Wait! Maybe Steve is trying to censor me, too. Help, help, I’m being repressed!)

    *Note: this is all speculation.

  117. OT:
    Margaret

    If you’d like me to look for the John Birch Society video “Civil Riots,” I’ll need to know how to contact you. Also I’ll need to have a bland answer when my FIL asks why I’m looking for it. I’m pretty sure my FIL’s JSB chapter has copies of every JSB movie ever made.

    I’ll check back tomorrow morning for contact info. If you’ve got access to my email address that I leave when I fill in the leave a comment box, you can contact me there too.

    Jami

  118. Several people have mentioned Elder Oaks’s remarks. In the interest of clarity, here is the paragraph in question (in which he discusses the quote that he apparently made earlier):

    “I also said something else that has excited people: that it’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true, because it diminishes their effectiveness as a servant of the Lord. One can work to correct them by some other means, but don’t go about saying that they misbehaved when they were a youngster or whatever. Well, of course, that sounds like religious censorship also. But not everything that’s true is useful. “

  119. Thomas Parkin says:

    #99

    Me, too.

    ~

  120. And after a little more digging, here is the original quote that he discussed on the documentary:
    “In our system of Church government, evil speaking and criticism of leaders by members is always negative. Whether the criticism is true or not.”
    Dallin H. Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987.

  121. rd: you already admitted to not reading the comments prior to yours, so I hope others will forgive the redundancy, but let me re-re-reiterate: the bit about Ezra Taft Benson was NOT in the speech he gave in the Marriot Center.

  122. Jeremy,

    At this point, I’m not sure it matters whether the statement was made in the Marriott Center. The Tribune and Deseret News are bigger megaphones anyway. The important question, in my mind, is: Did Senator Reid take a swipe at ETB in public and blame him for the rightward drift of Mormons in the U.S. over the past decades? The answer is yes.

    That is a pretty sloppy job of political analysis, as JN-S pointed out in comment # 69, and his statement can therefore be viewed as a naked partisan attack on a church president who is dead, and the fact that he has been dead for decades now renders the attack gratuitous and childish.

    It really bothers me that the church where I live is so suffocatingly conservative. The partisanship is disheartening and drives me to the point of despair. My problem with this story about senator Reid is that he appears to have simply ratcheted up the partisanship. Dittoheads and KosKids really are different sides of the same coin, and neither of them has much to do with the gospel.

  123. (Margaret asked me to post this for her in response to #117.)

    Jami:
    Margaret_Young@byu.edu [i.e., how to contact me]

    I’ll be out of town for the next few days.
    Why do I want to see it…
    Hmmm. Could you tell him I’m really interested in the Communist foundation of the Civil Rights Movement? How about, “All I know is she’s making a documentary, and it has something to do with civil rights.”

  124. Mark IV,

    I don’t think it’s wrong to suggest that President Benson was important in creating the current political environment in the church. He gave a number of politicized conference talks, published political books and pamphlets, and so on. These were _very_ right-leaning. Have you read _The Red Carpet_ or _An Enemy Hath Done This_ or the many political pamphlets then-Elder Benson promoted? (Not to mention his continual endorsement of Cleon Skousen’s political books, like _The Naked Communist_ and Allen’s _None Dare Call it Conspiracy_).

    I have many relatives who will tell you that the United Nations is a secret conspiracy to impose communism and the New World Order; that the Civil Rights movement was a communist conspiracy; that most New Deal programs (social security, etc) are part of the conspiracy to turn America into a socialist state, and so on. They draw this directly from many talks by then-Elder Benson, and from books by others (Allen, Skousen) which ETB very publicly endorsed on multiple occasions.

  125. Dittoheads and KosKids really are different sides of the same coin…

    As a fairly regular reader of DailyKos, I’ll agree with you only to the extent that the latter have heads and the former are a bunch of, er, tails…

    (Sorry, I simply could not resist.)

    And I must second Kaimi here. Go read the comments following the Deseret News’s coverage of Reid’s speech, do a “Find on this page” for the word “commie” or “socialist,” and you’ll get a sense of the political environment we’re talking about here.

  126. Don’t get me wrong; Benson’s politics were undeniably very far indeed to the right — so far that they’ve pretty much left the chart as far as the current political spectrum is concerned. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with claiming that his conspiracy theories were the wrong track. Many prominent church leaders at the time Benson made remarks like this definitely felt that Benson’s approach was indeed the wrong track. I do think Reid was overly simplistic in attributing Mormon conservatism to Benson and a handful of others like him, though; I think Reid’s confusing symptoms with causes.

  127. OT: My children are so shocked that daddy has a book that has the word ‘naked’ in the title.

    Kaimi–My husband completely believes all those things and President Benson’s writings convinced him. He says that he’s pretty sure David O. McKay (while prophet of the church) in general conference recommended that people read The Naked Communist. Who knows.

    It seems to me that if a person thinks encouraging people to be really conservative is “the wrong path” then Reid’s comments would seem totally accurate. I think that it is indisputable that many church leaders have encouraged one political view or another. The “wrong path” part is disputable.

    Personally, I avoid 4th of July fast and testimony meetings, because so frequently they turn into a politics-meets-religion nightmare. Outside of church meetings, I love intelligent debate on the subject, but inside–now that gives me an oogy feeling.

    A registered decline-to-state
    Jami

  128. Kaimi/Jeremy,

    Gents, I don’t think we can blame ETB for the sorry state of political acuity in the Mormon VRWC. Go check out CNN’s 2004 vote breakdown by state and voter demographic. It shows, pretty convincingly I think, that married folks with kids who attend church regularly vote in a pattern that is overwhelmingly conservative, like over 65%. And when you consider just the western states, it goes over 70%. Among voters who say that “Moral Values” are their biggest concern, more than 90% voted republican nationwide, not just in Utah. You’re gonna have a hard time convincing me that President Benson is responsible for all that. I continue to think that Harry took a cheap shot, and it does not speak well of him.

    Kaimi, yep, those books and those views are indefensible. But if we take the state of Idaho as an example, we are more likely to find people who espouse those views in non-Mo northern Idaho than we are in the southern part of the state where LDS are a bigger part of the population. I think those views are pretty far outside the conservative mainstream, anyway. Ron Paul is drawing most of those voters, and look how well he is doing.

    Jeremy, I have no problem at all calling those commenters kooks on the fringe. What do you call the lovely people at Kos who describe Mormons with 4 letter words? Back when the KosKids bailed out the Cheney protest with money, there were hundreds of commenters there whose mothers needed to wash their mouths out with soap.

  129. Mark IV,

    married folks with kids who attend church regularly vote in a pattern that is overwhelmingly conservative, like over 65%.

    Okay, a significant, but not overwhelming, majority.

    And when you consider just the western states, it goes over 70%.

    Doesn’t this start to become a circular argument when you limit it to the Western states?

    Among voters who say that “Moral Values” are their biggest concern, more than 90% voted republican nationwide, not just in Utah.

    A fantastically ill-conceived survey question if I ever saw one. The catch phrase “moral values” is so loaded, it’s like saying “Among conservatives, 90% said they were conservative.”

    All that aside, I think what Kaimi, and Reid, and I are suggesting is that ETB contributed to Mormonism’s political culture not only by fostering a certain political stance but by entangling that political stance with Mormon culture’s ideas about authority and obedience. What Reid was saying wasn’t just that ETB made Mormons turn conservative (and gave fuel for some Mormons to turn ultraconservative) , but that he made many Mormons think that conservatism was a religious obligation that that non-conservatism was parallel to apostasy.

    What do you call the lovely people at Kos who describe Mormons with 4 letter words?

    What I don’t call them: a representative sample. And you hardly have to go to the “left fringe” to find people talking trash about Mormons.

  130. Probably not the best formulation, as it could easily be misinterpreted.

    But the sentiment is certainly true, especially when one considers the vocal opposition to civil rights, for instance, of Church leaders.

    I’m glad we’ve got Harry Reid!

  131. Jeremy,

    Oh, I understand very well what you are suggesting. I just don’t agree with it, and I don’t think the data sustain your argument. Married, church-going people with children vote in predictable ways, regardless of religion. To suggest that Mormons behave just like everybody else, but for a different reason, seems to be taking the long way around, and it fails the test of parsimony. I don’t buy it. I think it is more likely that the senator was using ETB as a stand-in for Mormon conservatism in general, and vented his frustration in an impolitic manner. But maybe I’m wrong.

    Do you really think Kos represents the left fringe, or am I misreading you? I think all the candidates bypassed the DLC convention this year and instead went to the Kos meeting looking for supporters, so I had assumed that Kos was the new face of the mainstream American left.

    I honestly only care about the politicization of Mormonism. I wish people would leave their nutty political aberrations at home on Sunday. I think the senator missed a chance to make some hay among people who might have been inclined to see things his way, and I think that he has exacerbated one of the worst features of American Mormonism.

  132. Jami #127

    He says that he’s pretty sure David O. McKay (while prophet of the church) in general conference recommended that people read The Naked Communist. Who knows.

    Highly unlikely. President McKay went out of this way to discourage any official Church endorsement of Elder Benson’s or any other extremist political organizations or theories. In a First Presidency Statement Jan.3, 1963, the Deseret News printed:

    The following statement is made to correct the false statements and unwarranted assumptions regarding the position allegedly taken by leaders of the Church on political questions in general and the John Birch Society in particular . . . . We deplore the presumption of some politicians, especially officers, coordinators and members of the John Birch Society, who undertake to align the Church or its leadership with their partisan views. We encourage our members to exercise the right of citizenship, to vote according to their own convictions, but no one should seek or pretend to have our approval of their adherence to any extremist ideologies. We denounce communism as being anti-Christian, anti-American, and the enemy of freedom, but we think they who pretend to fight it by casting aspersions on our elected officers of other fellow citizens to the anti-Communist cause a great disservice.


    David O. McKay
    , Prince and Wright p. 290

    The FP issued this statement after then Elder Benson sought official McKay endorsement of the John Birch Society. Pres. McKay refused. Elder Benson nevertheless, publicly endorsed his son Reed’s acceptance as state coordinator of the Utah chapter of the Birch society, which became national headlines.

    Shortly after the FP statement on the Birch society, Elder Benson sought out a meeting w/ President McKay and wanted an apology for the FP public statement. Pres. McKay refused such an apology, and wrote of that meeting:

    Following the publication of the [First Presidency] statement, I was asked to apologize for what was said against Brother Benson and his son Reed because if we had called them “we would have done anything that you suggested.” I said, Yes, and nobody in the Church or in the world would have known that you were doing that, but everybody knew that you are a national character and everybody knew that you favor the Birch Society and that you approve your son representing it in Utah, and when the First Presidency gave that statement it received the same publicity which your statement received, and we offer no apology.

    David O. Mckay, Prince and Wright p. 293

  133. Guy,

    President McKay had interesting political views that were hard to pin down. While I agree with you that a statement such as Jami suggests seems unlikely, it is nonetheless true.

    Well, the era through which we are passing is no exception. On the flyleaf of the book, The Naked Communist, by W. Cleon Skousen, we find this quotation, (and I admonish everybody to read that excellent book of Chief Skousen’s) : ‘the conflict between communism and freedom is the problem of our time. It overshadows all other problems. This conflict mirrors our age, its toils, its tensions, its troubles, and its tasks. On the outcome of this conflict depends the future of mankind.

  134. The citation for the quote in # 133 is: Conference Report, Oct. 1959, p. 5

  135. Source Mark IV?

  136. Thanks for that, Mark. It is entirely consistent with the Prince and Wright chapter on President McKay and communism. The book discusses McKay’s consistent position of opposing communism, and a number of very strong anti-communist statements throughout the 1950s. President McKay was opposed to some of then-Elder Benson’s methods, particularly later, during the 1960s, but they did not disagree on many of the broader questions.

  137. Mark,

    Thanks. Interesting quote–clearly of which I was unaware. I’ll have to see if I can dig up a 1959 conference report. I’d like to see the entire talk. Though, I disagree with Kaimi that is entirely consistent with the Prince and Wright chapter on communism.

    President McKay clearly wanted to back away from extremist viewpoints, and more importantly didn’t want the Church to seem to be aligned with them. That same chapter recounts how Pres. McKay initially endorsed McCarthy; but, when he became too extreme, Pres. McKay backed away from that support.

    The chapter also notes that it wasn’t really until after Elder Benson finished his stint in the Eisenhower Administration that he became more and more extreme in his political views, even to the point of distancing himself and disparaging Pres. Eisenhower, the one who gave Elder Benson his national stature.

    I think the chapter probably affirms your statement, Mark that Pres. McKay’s politics were hard to pin down. He appeared to give tacit approval to Elder Benson’s broader message of anti-communism, but also recounts more than one dressing down of Elder Benson by Pres. McKay.

  138. cj douglass says:

    Just read every comment. I need to get a life. Anyway, I consider myself as politically liberal as any Mormon I know and yet I’m still confused as to why this Chris guy (if that’s his real name :) ) was run off and even threatened to have his comments deleted. What kind of dog and pony show you runnin here Steve? Do you want to have a conversation or just pat each other on the back? Boooring!

  139. Steve Evans says:

    lol CJ, I apologize! Next time I’ll be more patient with personal attacks.

    Isn’t it obvious that we just want to pat each other on the back? What the hell is the bloggernacle about??

  140. cj douglass says:

    Steve, I can see now why they put the cuff on you…

  141. Mark IV,

    Do you really think Kos represents the left fringe, or am I misreading you? I think all the candidates bypassed the DLC convention this year and instead went to the Kos meeting looking for supporters, so I had assumed that Kos was the new face of the mainstream American left.

    Now I’m confused. You meant to compare Dittoheads to the Democratic mainstream as “two sides of the same coin”? I simply thought you were saying “some nutsos comment on Kos, just like some nutsos listen to Rush.” I mistakenly took less offense at your comment than I should have… :)

    Married, church-going people with children vote in predictable ways, regardless of religion.

    Well, predictable with 65% accuracy. And again, we’re not just talking about voting patterns, but about the way they entangle their political choices with their religious convictions. It may or may not have altered voting patterns significantly, but I really don’t think so many Mormons in Utah would be so absolutely boggled by diversity of political thought if ETB hadn’t mixed John Birch and Joe Smith from the pulpit. At least not to the same extent. And I don’t think Reid was suggesting anything beyond that by mentioning ETB specifically.

  142. I’ll add one more thing, then I’ll shut up. ETB’s political pronouncements were much more public than the efforts to stop them (I’ve heard ETB’s extreme political views referenced frequently by conservatives, but heard about the efforts to quiet them only obliquely until the McKay bio came out). After that, it become taboo for leaders in the church to publicly discuss their political sympathies at all. ETB is the last General Authority we have who was on record making strong political partisan statements (aside from the relatively rare statements from Church HQ); he’s the most recent one we can look to for ammo to use our political battles (even though much of that ammo predates his prophethood).

    If ETB had not written so stridently about his political views, perhaps voting patterns would be the same in the American church, but I don’t think conservative members would have as much fuel for their righteous indignation towards liberalism, and I don’t think they would consider their political views so squarely within and indisinguishable from their religious convictions. I think what Reid was trying to say was, if ETB had been more circumspect about advertising his views, perhaps Reid (and other Mormon dems) wouldn’t have to answer the “How can you be a Mormon and a democrat?” question quite so frequently.

  143. I’m with Jeremy here. ETB did not cause Mormon GOP-philia, but he is emblematic of the anointing of hard right conservatism as the One True Mormon Politics. Given that this notion is quite firmly entrenched in the US, you can hardly blame a bloke from the other (minority) side for venting some frustration.

  144. Jeremy,

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. When you said that the filthy-mouthed commenters weren’t representative and then used the term “left fringe”, I took you to mean that the commenters were the fringe and that the rest of Kos wasn’t fringe, i.e. mainstream.

    RonanJH,

    If that is what you think Reid was saying, then you agree not with Jeremy, who usually knows what he is talking about, but with the crazy person in comment 131 who said:

    I think it is more likely that the senator was using ETB as a stand-in for Mormon conservatism in general, and vented his frustration in an impolitic manner.

    Mormons and Westerners in general were pretty conservative long before ETB, and have remained so for long after him. Geez, Heber J. Grant published editorials in the Deseret News denouncing Roosevelt’s New Deal as antithetical to the gospel. As shown above, Pres. McKay encouraged people, from the pulpit in conference,(YIKES!) to study Cleon Skousen. (DOUBLE YIKES!) To the extent that Pres. Benson deserves some blame, I don’t think it is any more than 2 or 3 percentage points of voters. And to make a Mormon prophet your straw man and whipping boy over a few percentage points is really pretty dumb, assuming your goal is to win over Mormon voters.

    I don’t blame Harry for being frustrated. I’m frustrated too, maybe even more than he is. He missed an opportunity to do a lot of good. I fault him for falling back into the same old worn-out partisanship and shallow analysis that passes for political thought in the U.S. today.

  145. Ronan #143, just so.

    Guy #132, the influence of Hugh B. Brown on the quotes you cite is palpable. This is one of those situations where it’s simply difficult to pin McKay’s actual personal views down, because he was so profoundly influenced by his friends and advisers at one point or another. I might note, though, that in 1959 the Cold War was still young; the existence of Soviet nuclear weapons was only a ten-year-old fact, and Sputnik had been launched just two years earlier. I think we might have a bit of extra understanding of someone who falls for an extremist interpretation of the events in question when those events were newly unfolding. It can sometimes take a long time to sort through frightening and turbulent political events to the point where someone reaches a conclusion that is stable and sensible.

  146. Mark #144, just as a memento of how times have changed… The proportion of the Utah vote that went for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in each of his elections, at a time, of course, when Utah was overwhelmingly Mormon and the clear majority of Mormons lived in Utah.

    1932: 56.5%
    1936: 69.3%
    1940: 62.3%
    1944: 60.9%

    The 1932 percentage was basically at the national average, while each of the subsequent percentages was clearly above the national average. Heber J. Grant may have denounced the New Deal, but that evidently didn’t stop a clear majority of his coreligionists from voting in favor of the program.

  147. Those are some interesting numbers, J. How do we account for the hard right turn since then? It’s pretty clear that they just ignored Grant.

  148. JNS

    Guy #132, the influence of Hugh B. Brown on the quotes you cite is palpable.

    No question about it. Pres. Brown seemed to be as active in trying influence Pres. Mckay to tone down Elder Benson’s remarks, as Elder Benson was in making them.

  149. And, given the actions of Grant and McKay, the case could be made that Benson was actually somewhat less strident as prophet than his predecessors.

  150. Mark,

    That’s probably true. And, I think Pres. Benson was less strident, than was Elder Benson, perhaps because as Pres. Benson he had to have a different outlook than he could adopt as Elder Benson.

    I think it would have been just as innappropriate for Pres. Brown to have been making political statements for the other side of the political spectrum implying Church approval, as it was Elder Benson for his viewpoint. We’re to render unto Caesar that which is Ceasers.

    So, in a political context if we want to render something to Ceasar, or promote our own particular Ceasar it should be done without implying Church approval. To that extent, I’m even troubled by Pres. McKay’s reference to Cleon Skousen in a General Conference.

    We seem to have made some progress since the early 60’s. As for Sen. Reid: Well, he works for Ceasar. If it’s his opinion that Elder Benson’s political proclamations had a negative effect on Church members, I see nothing wrong with expressing that opinion, particularly as he did in an interview with the media, and not in the context of a devotional address at BYU. Frankly, he’s in good company, because I think Pres. McKay, Brown, and many others in the FP/Q12 at the time held similar views about Elder Benson’s political activities.

  151. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Sen. Reid proves once and for all that Mitt Romney won’t have to take orders from SLC if he becomes President? If the Brethren don’t “censure” Sen. Reid for a comment like that (which they shouldn’t and won’t), the critics have no leg to stand on. Won’t stop them, and most won’t even recognize it, but it’s right there in the open now.

  152. First let me say this is the discussion we should have been having yesterday. Much more productive.

    Mark, you asked this question:

    How do we account for the hard right turn since then?

    To what extent do some church doctrines and our church culture lend themselves to exploitation by the fringe elements of both the right and/or the left?

    I think, for example, of secret combinations from the Book of Mormon and communist conspiracy theories, giving McCarthyism a sheen of respectability. Why hasn’t the United Order and consecration had as much traction towards the more liberal views, such as universal health care? For all our emphasis on self reliance, both our welfare program and our understanding of grace and atonement would seem to give us more of an affinity for social programs. But such does not seem to be the case.

    Why do we as a church and culture seem to be so much more comfortable with the right-leaning philosophies?

  153. Good question, kevinf. My off-the-cuff answer is that Mormons are simply part of the culture around them, and their political tendencies reflect that culture. Mormons in other places oustide the U.S. are able to find non-conservative ways to express their Mormon outlook in the political arena, so I think we need to be careful attributing the temporary status quo in the U.S. to Mormonism itself.

    And while I agree with JN-S’s previous observation that our religious background should inform our political agendas, I am quite pessimistic about our ability to do that in any meaningful way. The conservative guy who thinks he is promoting self-reliance by favoring cuts in WIC has probably been the beneficiary of so much help from his fellow citizens (subsidized education, FHA loans, SBA loans, FDIC, etc.) that his argument is laughable. And the guy who says “I’m a liberal because I like to help people” is not only insulting people who may disagree with his political views by implying they are selfish, he is ignorant of the research that shows that conservative voters are more civic minded overall, contributing a greater percentage of their time and money to charities than the libs.

    If anybody sees a way out of this quagmire, please tell me.

  154. Mark (144),

    You’re right that other church leaders were saying similar things, and that this shift cannot be placed solely at the feet of ETB. (Besides Pres. McKay, there were many other prominent conservative voices, like Mark E. Peterson).

    On the other hand, isn’t that pretty much what Reid says?

    “In the past years we’ve had some very prominent members of the church, like Ezra Taft Benson, who are really right-wing people.”

    He’s not saying it’s all ETB. He’s using ETB as one example of “very prominent members.” This is not inconsistent with your comment, is it?

  155. Adam Greenwood says:

    “How can people say that he has misguided views when he unequivocally said that he’s pro-life”?

    He denounced the Supreme Court after it sustained the partial birth abortion ban he voted for. He voted to end the Mexico City policy.

    But on the whole his pro-life stance has been pretty good. For a democrat.

  156. Nick Literski says:

    When ETB was at the height of his political rants, his words were really quite similar to prominent evangelicals of the time, such as Billy Graham. It’s much like today’s LDS leadership statements on homosexuality, which are nearly verbatim from evangelical “ex-gay” and anti-marriage-equality rhetoric. I think it’s safe to say that many LDS don’t pay much attention to what other religious leaders are saying (understandably, from a doctrinal standpoint), thus they don’t notice the parallels.

  157. Nick Literski says:

    #155 Adam:
    Why must a “pro-life” include support of government intrusion on intensely private family decisions? Even within an LDS context, I think it’s entirely acceptable to oppose elective abortion, yet also oppose government power to determine if and when an abortion may be performed. After all, many who consider themselves “pro-life” are quite critical of the exceptions noted in the LDS church’s position on abortion.

  158. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 156 Nick is absolutely right. The rhetoric out of SLC (on social topics) is virtually identical that of the Evangelical groups like Focus On The Family, and has been that way for a long time. There are some exceptions (stem cell research comes to mind), but on the whole the similarity is striking. Not sure what it means, but there it is.

  159. mondo cool says:

    Kevinf (#152:)

    Why hasn’t the United Order and consecration had as much traction towards the more liberal views, such as universal health care? For all our emphasis on self reliance, both our welfare program and our understanding of grace and atonement would seem to give us more of an affinity for social programs. But such does not seem to be the case.

    As I understand, in the United Order and consecration an individual has the option of opting out of those programs, if he so chooses. Under many Universal Health care proposals, mandated by the government and funded by taxation, an individual does not have the option to _not_ participate. Failure to do so would subject the individual to fine and/or imprisonment. Even the Atonement is not forced on individuals if they choose differently.

    Seems I’ve read somewhere that “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

  160. I haven’t read most of the comments, but I think there should have been another choice in the poll. Like, “Probably right, but worded so badly as to seem completely wrong.” While I’m sure I agree with Senator Reid’s political views a lot more than President Benson’s, I’m also not old enough to remember any political views of President Benson’s, so the comment comes across as criticizing the Prophet for leading the church down the wrong path. Not what Senator Reid meant to do, but since all of those BYU students are younger than I am, I’m afraid he may have come across that way to them as well (though maybe, since it was at a press conference, there weren’t many there). I’m okay with questioning the political views of our leaders, but this comment seemed to criticize President Benson’s prophetic calling, which I don’t think is good.

  161. People, listen to Vada. Vada, you tell them.

  162. Adam Greenwood says:

    Words mean things and have contexts, unless your Alice’s Humpty Dumpty. In modern America pro-life generally means politically pro-life, i.e., that one thinks the law should usually put the life of the unborn child before the choice of the mother, doctor, boyfriend, etc. The phrase you’re looking for is “personally pro-life.”

  163. Mondo,

    I think I am getting tired of this thread (my fault, not yours), but I will grant you that agency, as a principle of the Gospel, is a basic underpinning of our theology.

    I do want to ask, what groups are you concerned might be fined or imprisoned for failing to participate in a universal health care program? If it’s the working poor who currently don’t qualify for the safety net programs already in existence, it reminds me of the Victorian era debtors prisons. If it’s employers who don’t currently provide their employees with insurance, if it is a requirement for everyone, then their perceived competitive disadvantage goes away. If it’s otherwise wealthy individuals who don’t have a need for the program, it’s the same to me as childless families who still pay taxes to support public schools.

    Not being snarky, just haven’t heard anyone float a UHC program that includes criminal penalties, and like public education, UHC, in my opinion, would prove to be beneficial to society in general.

    To prevent this from becoming a threadjack, I’ll return to the question of our theology and Mormon culture seeming to pull to the right, and ask again: If the atonement is about the Savior doing something for us we can’t do for ourselves, why don’t we see a corresponding desire for the church to help those who aren’t able to do it all themselves? And the answer is that we do it all the time. Fast offerings. Church humanitarian aid. YM/YW service projects. Eagle Scout projects. Fasting in our wards for a child afflicted with leukemia.

    We have a good track record of conservative self reliance and more liberal service and sacrifice. It just doesn’t seem to translate out to the political world as diversely.

    But ultimately, we’ve got to avoid conflating our religious doctrines with political philosophies. A more clear way to put it, rather than my religion informs my political views, perhaps our religion should motivate our political views, and there are lots of different ways it can be expressed. Let’s not let one faith/one gospel equate to one party/one ideology.

  164. mondo cool says:

    Kevinf:

    Yes, we do it all the time in the Church. But, again, it is voluntary in nature. If a UHC law passes, the only way it can be funded is through the collection of taxes – just like everything else in government.

    If I were mean and nasty and didn’t want to pay for somebody else’s health care, the law would not care. The government would still collect my taxes – and, if I refused to pay, then I would be fined, or imprisoned, or both.

    I would no longer be voluntarily providing for those in need. I would be coerced, under penalty of law, to do so.

    However, I could congratulate myself on my charitable nature.

    Robin Hood took it from me so I must be a wonderful person helping the poor and needy as much as I do.

    Our efforts in the Church come from personal conviction. The government frankly doesn’t give a flip.

  165. mondo cool says:

    And, yes this is heading towards a threadjack.

  166. Nick Literski says:

    Well, we can bring it back to the thread by pointing out the mania which once existed for Bo Gritz as a presidential candidate. His supporters in Utah (didn’t he get more votes than Clinton?) used ETB’s rhetoric to support their position. I was even accosted in a grocery store by a former landlord, who told me that Bo Gritz was “just like Captain Moroni,” and if I was “listening to the spirit,” I’d know to vote for him.

    What does this have to do with mondo’s tax rant? Bo Gritz later left the LDS church, because his stake president actually expected him to pay his legal share of taxes in order to be “honest with his fellow man” and receive a temple recommend.

  167. Bo Gritz. A Nevada teaching credential. Underwater demolition specialist. Member of the church. Former boy scout. What more could you want from a Presidential canidate?

    Hanging out here is like a serious flashback, dude! I’m mean like totally.

    Jami

  168. Nick,

    I just have to share a story. My older brother used to be an auditor and revenue agent for the IRS in a certain Mormon dominated western state. He really used to like Bo Gritz for a lot of other reasons, but when Gritz became a tax rebel, my brother quit talking about him. He also used to laugh when people paid tithing on tips and other income, wouldn’t report the income to the IRS, but still claim the tithing deduction. “So you gave 22% tithing to the Church? Sure you don’t have any other income?”

    BTW, I think it was Ross Perot that garnered more votes in Utah than Clinton (1992, 27% to 24%), but Gritz probably wasn’t far behind (actually he was, less than 4%).

  169. mondo cool says:

    Rant – to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; rave.

    How much extra do any of you contribute in taxes to benefit society in general? Anybody out there who says, “You know, I could do a lot more than checking the Presidential Campaign box. I’ll send an extra 5% this year.” Nick? Someone? Anyone? Please, “fess up.”

    And, obviously, anyone who thinks that government enforced, tax-funded social programs eviscerate and redefine Christ-like charity MUST be a nut case like ol’ Bo.

    Does “legal” equal “moral” or always acceptable to God?

  170. I keep saying I’m not going there, but since you asked a direct question, I’ll answer it. Even though I no longer have kids in K-12 public education, I still vote to approve school levies. I have voted for propositions to raise taxes to support transportation infrastructure. Do those count?

    But with that, I am done here, leaving Harry Reid’s dead horse lying in the road, threadjack and all.

  171. mondo cool says:

    Kevinf:

    No, they don’t count. (And, I am assuming that you are talking about “as Christ-like charity.”) You voted to use the power of government to take money from everyone to accomplish your worthy desires for educating kids K-12. You want to force them to be/do good.

    A valid question is whether anything the government does is a proper function of government. So, asking whether education, UHC, or transportation infrastructure is a proper role of government, should be, IMO, the main question. (BTW, I think transportation infrastructure is a proper function of government.)

    The problem that I have with many social programs is the very fact that when the government does them, you remove them from voluntary charity. Instead of the Savior doing something for us we can’t do for ourselves, or us voluntarily, because of our love for the Savior and our fellow man, doing something for others that they cannot do for themselves, we replace it with the force of law. You just can’t call it charity anymore. The necessary elements of charity have been stripped away. I just find it hard to reconcile my desire to help others which has been born of my relationship with the Savior with enacting a law to make others do the same. “I have this desire, therefore everyone else must also?” It ceases to be the pure love of Christ.

    “Wouldn’t everyone be happier if they had the same testimony I have of the Church and the Gospel? So, let’s pass a law to make it so.” I think we recognize that as not holding inviolate the free exercise of conscience. But, why is there so little sensitivity to laws that violate the right and control of property through taxation?

  172. Nick Literski says:

    #169 mondo:
    Yes, thank you for an apt definition of “rant,” which fits your #169 even better than your earlier entry.

    How much extra do any of you contribute in taxes to benefit society in general? Anybody out there who says, “You know, I could do a lot more than checking the Presidential Campaign box. I’ll send an extra 5% this year.” Nick? Someone? Anyone? Please, “fess up.”

    Nice strawman you’ve got there, mondo. Some of us are quite willing to pay our legal share of taxes, always understanding that doing so benefits society in general in a variety of ways. We don’t have to pay “5% extra” in order to willingly choose to pay our taxes. Your argument is frankly identical to that of the anti-LDS who cry about being “forced” to follow LDS commandments, and I’m quite sure you wouldn’t buy that nonsense argument.

  173. mondo cool says:

    Nick:
    When you give what you are required by the law to give, your “legal share,” are you being charitable?

    When we willingly pay our taxes, I would hope that doing so ALWAYS benefits society in general in a variety of ways.

    My point, again, is that my religious desire to help others should not be forced upon you – because it violates your free exercise of conscience and your right and control of property.

  174. I’ve seen some threadjacks in my day, but this one is right up there with any of them.

  175. PaulWright says:

    “Guy, you have a distinct advantage over me: you can vote!”

    Comment by Steve Evans

    Steve Evans is a felon?

  176. 175. I was thinking a Canadian, maybe a Canadian felon.

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