God does not particularly care about your civil liberties

I’ve recently been embroiled in a debate regarding the value of the thoughts of Cleon Skousen. My debate partner, citing the endorsement that President McKay gave Bro. Skousen’s work, The Naked Communist, in the Friday session of the 1959 General Conference (I’d post a direct link to the address, but the only place I can find it without loads of commentary is at scriptures.byu.edu and I can’t link directly to it there), feels that Bro. Skousen and his works should be given a modicum of respect. Not that they should be treated as scripture or anything, but things that the Brethren mention positively should be paid attention to. I, on the other hand, think Skousen was crazy and can, therefore, be safely ignored.

This post, as with all posts, was prompted by at least one other thing. In a recent Millennial Star post, the author argues that the Book of Mormon demonstrates that we should be against government taxation (or, at least, most government taxation), using the examples of King Benjamin and King Noah as guides. One of the arguments he made (and he isn’t the only one to make it) is that Joseph’s rationing of food in Egypt was the only example he could think of that demonstrates God-approved government interference in the economy. He also notes that it was temporary and emergency-related. He is wrong, but he isn’t alone, so I thought that, as a public service, I would explain why. This will get back to Skousen in a moment.

You all know the story of the Pharaoh’s dream and of the coming rationing. We often forget how the rationing itself took place. Having acquired a fifth of the food of the land for seven years (by some means that is never explained), Joseph them sells the food back to the Egyptians (and anyone else who comes calling). By the end of the first few years, the Egyptians have run out of money, so they start to sell other things. They sell their cattle and, eventually, they sell themselves and their lands to the government. The 1/5 tax is then placed on them in perpetuity.

If we understand Joseph as a righteous man, approved by God, then a righteous man, approved by God, literally made everyone (who wasn’t a priest) a slave to the king of Egypt. He also instituted permanent taxation, equaling a fifth of income (food) forever. At least King Noah didn’t make everyone slaves! So how are we to understand this turn of events?

We have a couple of options. We could argue, for instance, that Joseph was a fallen prophet. Perhaps the heady influence of imperial Egyptian power proved too much for him and he succumbed to the temptation to enslave everybody. Perhaps it wasn’t really Joseph’s idea. The people he was working for were likely the Hyksos, so they may have enjoyed making all Egypt slaves (since they were once practical slaves there). Maybe the story is made up after the fact, rendering Joseph into the wily trickster, approved by God, who placed those onerous taxes on the pathetic Egyptians (who are pathetic only when it suits the pursuit of Israelite propagandists). Or we could just admit that God isn’t particularly concerned with civil liberties.

But wait, Cleon Skousen says, what about the example of the Children of Israel. According to Bro. Skousen, they were a band devoted to personal liberty, one that discouraged slavery in particular. Bro. Skousen is correct to suggest that slavery law in the Pentateuch is possibly not as bad as slavery law is everywhere else in the Near East, but he fails to note that slavery is just as taken for granted. The reason for the extensive slavery laws in the Pentateuch are two-fold: first, to maintain a basic economic and physical justice for the slaves that were apparently kept by the children of Israel, but not the same level of economic and physical justice that regular householders received; and second, to prevent Israelites from languishing in slavery for more than 7 years. Note that I said Israelites; people of other ethnicities were allowed to remain slaves (along with their children) in perpetuity. For that matter, the position of slave in society was apparently higher than the position of the hired man (because the slave was a part of a household, while a hired man was on his own). If this is a people devoted to the notion of personal liberty, this is an odd way of showing it.

Bro. Skousen ignores (or doesn’t notice) the political, economic, and social inequities in Ancient Israelite society (as portrayed by the Pentateuch) because it doesn’t suit his model. Instead, he finds a democratically elected bicameral legislature with a strong executive branch (really. I am not making this up). There isn’t a thing wrong in what he is doing, actually. After all, he is likening the scriptures unto himself. However, therein lies the rub. If we read ourselves into scripture, is the scripture really necessary at all?

People like to believe that morality comes from scripture, but much more frequently we use scripture to proof text things that we already believe. And scripture (meaning the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is sufficiently broad in genre, scope, theme, and history to provide justification for just about any act. Therefore, while it may be encouraging to the troops to point to scripture A that supports our cause, you can rest assured that the opposing force is pointing to scripture B that does the same.

In the Book of Mormon, Nephi notes that God speaks to men “according to their language, unto their understanding.” I have always taken this to mean that God works within human culture. This means, to me, that God provides extensive rules (many cribbed from Mesopotamia) regarding how to treat slaves and your fellow man to the Ancient Israelites. This means that Jesus restricts his ministry to the Jews, when the Samaritans and Greeks are equally worthy of his time. This means that certain restrictions on the distribution of priesthood authority (no matter what their origin) exist at various times and places. Human culture always includes human prejudice and human cruelty. God could hardly work with us at all without taking these elements of mortal existence into account.

So, should we give up? Accept that our lot in life (or, even worse, their lot in life) is hard, but such is God’s will. I think, again, that this would be substituting our own will for God’s. We all see in a glass, darkly. The one thing that I know is that God loves me and, assuming that I’m not anybody in particular, everybody else. At best, we can hope to better express and share his love for others. Laws that lead to that, I suppose, are superior. But that can be so broadly interpreted as to get us back in the same boat we just tried to escape.

I think, in the end, we are left with this. Even if we are unable to completely understand our own motives and even if we are unable to view the end from the beginning, we are ultimately our own best judge in this life. We should do our best to make the world better for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. What this means is best determined by the individual, whether that means scrupulous conformity or ear-searing objection. We’ve only ourselves, our conscience, and our sense of morality as guides. God will work with what we give him. We could do worse.


  1. I should note that I’m not sure the content of this post is directly relevant to its title. Feel free to discuss that, too.

  2. John,
    Love this post. You might have mentioned Levitical harvesting laws, which require that landowners not glean the corners of their fields, so that the poor have access to them. This could easily be read as God approving social welfare. Those on the right who don’t like that interpretation may be right to point out the disanalogies (though they may be fewer than they would like to think), but if they disaprove of the left using the bible for proof texting, then they ought to cease themselves.

  3. Of course the striking thing about Israel is that in an area about the size of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex there were fifty (50) cities of refuge.

    Any slave who escaped to one was entitled to stay there, not be returned to slavery and not have his slavery held against him.

  4. Mark, I can already tell you that they would say that said gleaning is voluntary. If it was enforced by the Israelite Department of Leftovers, then it would prevent individual piety.

  5. Stephen,
    I’m not familiar with cities of refuge being used in relation to escaped slaves, only manslaughter cases.

  6. I’ll ask the question that no one else dares:

    What does all of this say about Donny Osmond?

  7. jmolsen1967 says:

    John: Mark, I can already tell you that they would say that said gleaning is voluntary. If it was enforced by the Israelite Department of Leftovers, then it would prevent individual piety.

    Mark: I would think the point for the conservative would not be that the poor aren’t forced to work for their bread but that the landed are “forced” (under God’s law, aparently) to relinquish some of their hard earned cash for the support of others to whom it does not belong (even if they have to voluntarily work to get it). That particular disanalogy does not work because the imaginary liberal in this case could say that no one is forced to apply for welfare if they are out of work, just as no one in ancient Israel was forced to glean the corners of another person’s field.

  8. The URL that the post’s first paragraph mentions not finding is:

  9. Thanks, Brian. I couldn’t figure out how to link to the specific talk.

  10. Excellent post John. Scripture does not provide a uniform model for us to follow, and neither supports the Left or the Right, Conservatives or Liberals (whatever any of those terms mean.)

  11. Scott,
    I forgot to mention that Donny is exempt from all of this because he is a Soldier of Love.

  12. What a great post.

    P.S. Everybody knows Dr. Cleon Skousen was the father of modern ancient deep doctrine.

  13. Wonderful post.

    “And scripture (meaning the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is sufficiently broad in genre, scope, theme, and history to provide justification for just about any act.”

    I simply would add that just about anything and everything has been believed and preached by at least one modern apostle, so the breadth of possible justifications is even more expansive than just our canonized scriptures.

    That drives some people bonkers (especially critics but also devout members), but I love the freedom to try to figure it out on my own that it allows.

  14. Other Steve says:

    On a bit of serious note, Cleon Skousen was a fraud.

    He went around speaking to groups, claiming that he had worked directly with J. Edgar Hoover on the issue of Communism. President McKay heard him, thought he was credible and asked him to write The Naked Communist.

    But, none of it was true. Skousen was a low-level bureaucrat who never dealt with Communism. More important, he had claimed he was a special assistant to Hoover — which was flat-out false. At other times, he claimed he was one of only two FBI agents authorized — besides Hoover — to speak on Communism. Again, completely made up.

    The man was despicable. His life story was completely fabricated. I like to describe him as Paul H. Dunn on steroids.

    That falsity taints all of his work — scriptural, political, etc.

  15. It may be useful — essential, even — for readers to know and see that in 1959, when President McKay endorsed this visionary man, Skousen was also a man of power, a man of refinement, a man of service. Go ahead. It’ll warm your heart.

  16. John C — the rule actually applies to any city, but, of course, cities of refuge would count as cities.

  17. Deuteronomy 23:15-16: “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.”

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Joseph’s tax you talked about reminded me of a scene in the Mark of Zorro starring Tyrone Power. The evil soldiers post a notice that from now on you can’t pay taxes with grapes, but must pay with 1 bottle in five of the finished wine. Of course Zorro comes and strikes the offending notice down. It makes me laugh, because I would love to be taxed at only a 20% rate! (Of course, the slavery part I could do without…)

  19. Stephen,
    That is bizarre. Of course, a lot of the law in Deuteronomy is bizarre. It strikes me that, if that was actually enforced, Israel would run out of slaves quick, but what do I know. Such are the contradictions of the Pentateuch.

  20. Yes, John.

    To quote a commentary:

    Deut 23.15 has this fascinating passage:

    If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. 16 Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him. (Deut 23.15)


    This is exactly the understanding given in [HI:HANEL:2,1006]:

    “A slave could also be freed by running away. According to Deuteronomy, a runaway slave is not to be returned to its master. He should be sheltered if he wishes or allowed to go free, and he must not be taken advantage of (Deut 23:16-17). This provision is strikingly different from the laws of slavery in the surrounding nations and is explained as due to Israel’s own history of slaves. It would have the effect of turning slavery into a voluntary institution.”

    [HI:HANEL] A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (2 vols). Raymond Westbrook (ed). Brill:2003.

  21. I suspect that it was also something applied (if applied) to Hebrew slaves and not to foreign slaves. But I, of course, have no way to demonstrate that.

  22. For all our preaching about reading and studying the scriptures, we have very little guidance about interpretation. Which is too bad, because JS’s teachings about the bible–inspired, but not immune to errancies–should prime Mormons to be very savvy readers of the scriptures, especially in light of recent scholarship. Hopefully we’ll one day move beyond proof-texting to more nuanced readings.

    I’d love for someone to do a study about scriptural hermeneutics in Mormonism, past and present.

  23. DLewis,
    Read Philip Barlow’s book on Mormons and the Bible.

  24. Ardis, with an endorsement like that, who couldn’t warm up to Clean Skousen? Or at least not want to enjoy a hearty cup of Postum with the man?

    Skousen was an ever-present author in the home while growing up. We even lived in the same ward as Royal Skousen, a relative of Cleon Skousen, which seemed to bear witness to the truthfulness of his writings.

    Of course, I was always scared of naked communists even without reading Skousen. Have you seen a Russian man without clothes on??? I can understand why Skousen wrote his book now. ;-) Beware of naked communists!

  25. I find the story of Joseph in this regard very interesting – it’s hard to know how he came about deciding to entrench feudalism in Egypt. It’s not clear that God had anything to do with that decision being made. Then again, we don’t know that God had nothing to do with it, either.

    I do wonder what Joseph’s options actually were – perhaps giving food away to the Egyptian population, without receiving some kind of payment in return, would have created very serious problems. We know other non-Egyptian populations were also coming to Egypt for food. Maybe giving food free to Egyptians and charging the outsiders would have created unusual hostilities?

    I really have no idea. But it’s something I wonder about when I read that story.

  26. Jesus was a big fan of paying people equal wage, regardless of the labors they performed….

    just sayin….

  27. “People like to believe that morality comes from scripture, but much more frequently we use scripture to proof text things that we already believe. And scripture (meaning the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is sufficiently broad in genre, scope, theme, and history to provide justification for just about any act.”

    Excellent point. For my part, I’m sticking with the Law of Consecration.

  28. I have always thought that the Book of Ruth set a good model for the welfare state. Those who were poor could enter the fields, gather what was loose or in the corners, or use whatever fell out as a sheave. Governments in my country instituted a policy that those out of work either must be in some kind of study/training or volunteer work. That way they were kept in the loop if any jobs became available. God does care and did care about the poor and his followers did something about it.

  29. So Skousen was a collegue of J Edgar Hoover. I wonder if he ever saw him when he was crossdressing.

  30. There are several directions comments could take in this juicy post. As for Cleon Skousen, I’ll ditto #14. I’m not proud to have the John Birch Society closely tied with the church.

    As far as governments go, let’s not forget that in the Book of Mormon monarchy as the ideal form. This doesn’t quite jive with many modern political persuasions.

    Slavery, Communism, taxes, etc… It appears that God changes sides and opinions as cultures change. In short, God thinks like us.

  31. Other Steve says:

    Skousen never had a substantive tie to J. Edgar Hoover. Yet, he claimed to his death that he did.

    Here is what Skousen’s official web site has to say: “Dr. Skousen served the FBI for 16 years (1935-1951), and worked closely with J. Edgar Hoover.” Source: http://www.skousen2000.com/biography.htm

    Yet, Skousen was a low level supervisor in
    communications department at the FBI and never directly or substantively interacted with Hoover. The FBI files on Skousen are rather revealing: http://sites.google.com/site/ernie124102/skousen

    Skousen made many think he was an expert on Communism. He made up his background. Yet, even today, many think he is some kind of expert.

    Kind of sad . . .

  32. Steve Evans says:

    Steve, as a fellow Steve I insist that you clarify your moniker to as to disambiguate between yourself and I. It’s the decent Steve thing to do.

  33. Paul Skousen says:

    W. Cleon Skousen is my father and none of us appreciate the ad hominem attacks. Those kinds of comments reflect more on the writers than Skousen, I am very sorry you are not good students of the subject matter or the people you want to demean, it says a lot about the kind of individual you are.

    As to the distorted telling of his record: During WII, Skousen was communications chief at the FBI in D.C. This was shift work, multiple teams around the clock with multiple chiefs (one for each shift). When Pearl Harbor hit Skousen took dictation from Hoover at the teletype to notify all FBI offices to take action. Hoover knew him by name. Hoover was no cross-dresser, that’s a lie that the ignorant keep spreading.

    Skousen’s friendship with Hoover can be seen in personal letters in Skousen’s journals. Hoover called those who worked closely for him during WWII his “administrative assistants” even though there was no formal position with that title. That reference is what followed Skousen all the years afterwards. A fellow named Ernie Lazar obtained Skousen’s FBI files, the same files I have, and attempts to discredit Skousen. Problem is, those files don’t include other files and communications included in Skousen’s personal journals. Skousen was one of two people authorized to speak for the FBI in behalf of Hoover on police work and communism. Ernie tries to squeeze around that by showing there is little record to prove anything but police work (to discredit Skousen’s research on communism). Well, that’s because Ernie doesn’t have all the record, and so begins the smear job that some of the responders here have embraced. Skousen spoke on communism for Mr. Hoover, speech drafts are in his journals. Hoover had all of them studying communism on their own time, that was not part of their official duties (therefore not showing up in the formal records, as is the case with all jobs everywhere), but being an Agent or staffer was more than an 8-hour job. Hoover held the bar very high for all of them.

    Personally, I worked as an analyst for the CIA, and their Historical Intelligence Collection in the main library at Langley includes 3 copies of Skousen’s “The Naked Communist,” two in English, one in Spanish. I brought dad in one day to introduce him when he was in D.C., and a few of the old timers greeted him and told him how that book (Nkd. Comm.) was their “bible” regarding Communism because at the time nobody had any explanation of who or what this enemy was. Skousen’s book was the first to come out and was a national best seller. The FBI’s own internal intelligence department described the book in favorable terms.

    That book is criticized for several reasons, all of them debunked decades ago, but just now the old lies are finding a new audience among those who don’t scratch much deeper than blogs to form their opinions.

    Skousen’s association with Pres. McKay, Pres. Benson, Pres. Monson and others, remained close, warm and cordial. I was there for some of the discussions, others in the family for others. None of that is meant to grant any special authority to Skousen’s works or writings, but there was no other messenger who could deliver what he was teaching as did he, and he was repeatedly encouraged to do his best and not get discouraged by your types, at whatever level the attacks came. Obviously he failed to deliver for some of the posters at this site.

    Was he perfect? Of course not. But he had more facts, study, scholarship, research, reading and published production than do his nay-sayers. If you could see his library of 7,000+ books, you’d see each extensively underlined with marginal notations—typical of many good researchers. Today, that collection is down to about 3,000, but still an amazing exploration into a man’s labors to get to the bottom of so many issues.

    If you don’t agree with him, put your reasoning in your next book and then posters of your own ilk can nit-pick it all apart and show how dismally blind you were to this obvious fact, or that very clear conclusion. Blogs can’t do any subject justice. It takes a multi-faceted study across numerous categories to get some events correctly reported. That’s all that Skousen tried to do, report on what he found.

    So for the dishonest attacks you like to level about a man whose messages carry a much warmer and brighter spirit than do your comments to the contrary, I can only assume you must be “despicable,” “crazy,” “a fraud,” “kind of sad …” because that’s all I know about you. Is that being intellectually honest?

    Of course you wouldn’t know that you would never find a kinder friend at any level of life, and he would never call you the dismissive names you call him now. He’s dealt with “your types” all his life and he was better at it than me—he just ignored them. But he never rejected people who really wanted to know, who took issue with what he taught. He always put out his hand in fellowship to defuse their hate and find the root of misunderstanding.

    When somebody brought something new to his attention that he missed or got wrong, he was all ears, very appreciative, and anxious to explore it himself, and stand corrected. In that spirit of mutually helping one another to discover more insight, I invite you to abandon your self-importance and take another look at how he captured the messages and history as best he could. If you think he got it wrong, spell it out so we can all benefit.

    One of the reasons his detractors worked so hard to assassinate his character is because he was usually better read than them in their own areas of expertise. They couldn’t bluff. He could talk eye to eye with them. An important difference was, he wasn’t disrespectful of another’s efforts to explore an issue nor was he trying to defend his territory, he was just trying to get to the truth. And to that end he spent his whole adult life in study. How have you been spending yours? –Paul

  34. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally love Cleon. In fact, I’m enamored of all Cleons. Their birds-of-prey are really kick-ass, and with their cloaking technology they run circles around the Federation starships shamelessly violating the prime directive right and left. My favorite Cleon is Lieutenant Worf, but I’d like him better if he’d hook up with Counselor Troi already, and beat the unmanly accent and swishy French mannerisms out of Captain Picard.

  35. How have you been spending yours?

    Separating the sheep from the goats.

  36. Paul,
    I can’t speak to your father’s scholarship on communism or on his FBI years, but I can say with confidence that his biblical scholarship is and was deeply flawed. I’ve no doubt that he studied; I do doubt that he did it in any thing approaching objectivity. I’ve no doubt that he was a very kind man in person (I’ve other acquaintances that have met him and assured me of the same). You do the right thing by defending his reputation. Thank you for coming.

  37. Thank you Paul. I’m glad to hear the real back story of the Hoover years. I have liked your father’s works, but haven’t been able to respond intelligently to criticisms. Interesting how even something as evidencey and facty like his FBI files doesn’t tell the whole story.

  38. Sheesh Daniel, I have met Paul. He is a good man who loves his father. His response here is polite, articulate, and honorable. If anything, my guess is that he knew his father as a person better than you did.

    My hope is that 20 years from now, my sons will defend me against my critics on M*.

  39. Paul,
    Very interesting comment. It is really great to hear your experiences and stories. You should be proud that your father’s ideas continue to be relevant with part of America. Your insight could add a lot to this discussion. However, your comment came off as hyper-sensitive as well as dismissive. Perhaps if you think “blogs can’t do any subject justice” and if criticisms of your father’s work need to be in book form, this isn’t the place for you. There are legitimate disagreements with some of Cleon’s ideas on government and religion. Now if I can just find a cheap publisher…

  40. I’m just offended when people attack socialism and socialist programs by equating it with Communism. I pretty much stop listening when anybody mentions Skousen in relation to current American politics.

  41. Wait! Are you saying that I am not a light in the darkness? My plan is not working, I guess.

  42. Other Steve says:


    The core claim made by your father (and, now you), was that he insider knowledge of communism while at the FBI.

    The FBI files indicate otherwise. During the 1990s, while working on Capitol Hill, I was told the same thing.

    You can end the debate. If he was a key FBI spokesman on communism, provide one press clip quoting him while at the FBI. Just one.

  43. This is why I stay away from the Bloggernacle so much nowadays. What is the point of this blog post? Do people need to stir up trouble? Are people running out of ideas on interesting things to say so they just write inflammatory statements? “God does not particularly care about your civil liberties?” Cleon Skousen was “crazy” and “despicable?”

    Really? We mormons just do ad hominems against each other now?

  44. Daniel,
    Shut up.

    Don’t conflate the crazy and the despicable, they came from two different sources. If you’ve a problem with the title or the content of the post, please elaborate of that. Thanks.

  45. I have never read a single volume written by Cleon Skousen, but this post and the comments are typical of the incivility regularly leveled toward conservative Mormons by non-conservative Mormons — and very predictable.

    My husband and I make something of a game of reading obviously liberal (in the highjacked definition of the word) LDS-centric posts and then guessing what comments will follow. We’re so good, I think we’re psychic. Anyone want a personal reading?

    If you disagree with an argument, present it rationally. The ad hominem is inappropriate.

    Paul, I don’t know you or your father, but I appreciate that you are defending him here. Too bad you have to.

    At best, we can hope to better express and share his love for others. Laws that lead to that, I suppose, are superior.

    What laws do you know of that lead people to share God’s love for others? I’m thinking real love is of the voluntary, rather than coerced, variety

    Oh, yea, that’s why conservatives give way more of their OWN money to charity, and “liberals” give way more of OTHER PEOPLE’S money. Is that proxy love? Kind of like baptism for the dead or something?

  46. Everyone else,
    Bro. Skousen (who was and is our brother) really wasn’t the point of the post. Please direct your theories of his fraudulence or legitimacy to some other place. Don’t mistake symptoms for causes.

  47. Alison,
    Would you like to address the OP in some way? If you would like to just show up and be self-righteous, you have your own blog for that.

  48. John, your title is flat out wrong. We are supposed to pray over our flocks. God notices when a sparrow falls from a tree. I think he cares about a person’s civil liberties.

    The statements coming from two different sources doesn’t matter to my point. You and other posters are stirring up contention.

    I don’t want to associate with you, John.

  49. Alison,

    Did you guess that I would come to the defense of a Skousen? Predictable, indeed.

  50. “I don’t want to associate with you, John.”

    Is that meant to hurt his feelings?

  51. Alison, I will offer a correction to your drive-by ad hominem in the last paragraph or your irrational comment.

    Speaking as a person who has actually read the book and looked at the data which I assume you are claiming as support for your argument, I can tell you that you are incorrect. The liberal/conservative breakdown on charitable giving in the United States looks like this:

    1. Conservative religious people give the most
    2. Liberal religious come in second place
    3. Liberal irreligious people are next
    4. Conservative irreligious people are the stingiest of all

    It would be just as accurate for you to say that conservative people give the least to charity but that wouldn’t fit your cartoon version of the world, so I assume that is why you left it out.

    I also derive much amusement from reading blogs. One of the funniest I’ve seen lately is written by a woman who complains and whines publicly and incessantly about how hard it is to downsize from a 13,000 sq. ft. house, then she turns around and whines and complains about her tax burden, which is probably way up there about where it was in the Reagan years. It’s hilarious, I tell you.

  52. “My husband and I make something of a game of reading obviously liberal (in the highjacked definition of the word) LDS-centric posts and then guessing what comments will follow.”

    Funny. Whenever there’s a politics post up on the bloggernacle, I make a game of predicting that Alison Moore Smith will show up, admit “I didn’t have time to read all the comments,” unfairly attack liberals and moderates, and then go on her merry way. I’m a bit disappointed here–it’s been a while since my prediction was wrong, and for once she didn’t admit to not reading any of the comments. Attacking liberals, however–I don’t think I’ll ever be wrong about that.

    As far as Paul goes–he’s a decent guy (or was, at least, back when I knew him and his family). I think we all harbor misconceptions and/or crazy ideas. Some just happen to get more attention than others. Most of us (including Paul) are decent people who are trying to do good in the world, even if we harbor misconceptions or stumble every once in a while.

  53. Ryan,
    When it comes to civil liberties, God has a poor record (As shown through scripture or church policy)

    Slavery – Either for it or ambivalent about it.
    Women – Clearly, the second sex.
    Freedom of speech – Jesus condemned critics to hell and God doesn’t allow blasphemy.
    Homosexuality – There is plenty of recent commentary on that.
    Freedom from torture – See: Hell.
    Due Process – See: church legal system.

    P.S. Maybe BCC can do a separate Skousen post so we can have a contained flame war without ignoring the more substantive parts of this post.

  54. Chris, no it was meant to indicate to him that the level of disgust I have towards his writings has risen to the point that I don’t want any further communication.

    Wes, you determine God’s interest in something based on how much he intervenes to change it. Not a good strategy.

    Bycommonconset.com used to be a blog that actually have interesting and meaningful content, since so many others have jumped the shark. Not anymore. Now it’s a raise to the bottom between this and feministmormonhousewives.com.

  55. #58
    How do you determine someone’s interest without assessing their actions and words? I’m open to suggestions of a better strategy.

    Your argument for God’s concern for civil liberties consisted of his figurative attention to a sparrow. Please do not criticize the level of interesting and meaningful content here.

  56. Ryan,

    Good for you. I proudly associate myself with John. There are very few people outside my family who I admire and respect more than John Crawford.

    Oh, and you obviously do not read either BCC or fMh very much.

  57. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around “jump the shark”. Can someone please explain what that means?

  58. There is another angle to consider when discussing the charitable donations of liberals, conservatives, religious, and nonreligious. The majority of donations from religious people comes by way of commandment. The consequences for not doing so can range from mild guilt to eternal salvation. Mormons are accountable to a superior office on a yearly basis on the matter. (Note- This Does Not mean that all motivation for charity comes out from fear of hell or fewer blessings) Non-religious people are not required to give. Their positively-motivated giving could be considered to be a higher form of altruism. In short, atheists are good for nothing.

  59. Other Steve says:

    Back to the original topic (I’m feeling guilty for fueling the diversion) . .

    Why did Joseph advocate policies that enslaved the Egyptian population?

    Some thoughts . .

    * It was necessary to gain the trust of pharaoh

    * Joseph thought the interests of the ruler were the most important interest

    * God wanted Joseph to be in a position of trust and wasn’t highly concerned with the method

    * The biblical history was written far after the events recorded and may not accurately reflect the details

    I don’t know the accuracy of any of these possibilities but I can see them as possible explanations.

  60. Thomas Parkin says:

    My dad is crazy, too. Crazy like a fox!!

    My dad’s name is Clem, a fact that he has always regretted. Likely that Cleon felt the same about his name until he had a sub-atomic particle named after him.

    As for free and objective thinking. All thinking is the result of measurable cause and effect chemical reactions in your brain. The total number of reaction make the results non-computable. They are nevertheless predictable. In some cases more predictable than in others.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  61. @62 (Wes) — the other angle to consider is how taxes are used in countries like Sweden (where my spouse is from); their income tax isn’t much different than ours, but sales tax is 25%. But drive around downtown Stockholm, and you’ll see very little evidence of folks going without — a fact most Swedes are rather proud of (“at least we have something to show for our taxes!”). Does such taxation (in part to assist the less fortunate) ever get factored into those ‘charitable giving’ stats? (sorry to continue the threadjack)

  62. Oh, yea, that’s why conservatives give way more of their OWN money to charity, and “liberals” give way more of OTHER PEOPLE’S money.

    But can it really be considered your own money when you don’t work for it?* Or is having someone click a referral link kind of like “proxy work”?

    *Alison Moore Smith: “I use TextLinkAds on one of my sites and make pretty good money for doing nothing.”

  63. My dad wrote a book called The Politics of God http://www.amazon.com/POLITICS-GOD-Scriptures-contemporary-conservative/dp/0940356023

    He was planning on meticulously analyzing the scriptures to find out just how much God agreed with him…a conservative. He discovered God wasn’t liberal or conservative but really…Himself. All over the political spectrum depending on the issue. I think of this book every time you all go into the God is NOT a conservative thing.

  64. Ryan,
    My point in the title (and the post) is that God doesn’t generally advocate fighting the status quo regarding civil liberties. Certainly, God wants us to be happy but it is possible to be happy under a number of conditions, many of them quite awful. History (in the Bible) demonstrates that God often doesn’t attempt to overcome racism, classism, sexism, or many isms. At the same time, we are told that we are no longer bond or free, man or women, Jew or Gentile in the kingdom of God. This strikes me as yet another instance where the scriptural record is paradoxical (which is fine with me, because I think paradox often indicates God’s influence).

    In any case, I’m sorry that you found the title offensive and I’m sorry that I am apparently your last straw. Since I’m not that clear who you are, I don’t know if I have a history with you (are you, for instance, the Ryan who used to be on the Blogger of Jared?). In any case, sorry for being a jerk.

    Everyone else,
    Alison isn’t the focus of the post either. Move along, please.

  65. Thomas Parkin says:

    Agree John. God’s “work” is to bring to pass the immorality and Eternal Life of Man. He does this by ‘drawing us to Him’, by ‘drawing us to Christ.’ Explicitly where Christ is revealed; through His light even where He is not revealed. This work can be accomplished under any kind of political circumstance. In fact, it could be that it is easier to do when people are … up against it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be working to establish equitable and free societies. In fact, as we individually respond to God’s work, we will become the sort of people who tend to produce just, equitable, free and, broadly defined, prosperous societies. But the opposite may not be true … just, equitable, free and prosperous societies may not incline us to responding to God’s work with us … hence some of the paradox. In short, God is not doing His work by creating more perfect societies, and with the long view in mind, may not care that much about them. ~

  66. Thomas, I think your comment is a great explanation for a non-active God. God does not meddle in human affairs because they are petty compared to his higher laws and eternal goals. I just don’t think the majority of religious people see God as a being who ‘goes with the cultural flow’. Religious institutions and people constantly find it their divine duty to influence civil rights issues. They get involved because they feel they are doing God’s will. They feel He tells them through prayer and through their leaders what to do. I have no problem with people participating in politics as citizens. But if God doesn’t care enough about an issue to take a stand, why do religious people always say God agrees with them?

  67. Paul Skousen says:

    Thank you for the kind words from some of you, and the revealing words from the rest. It’s clear the narrow-minded assaults on W. Cleon Skousen will continue. I’m happy to elaborate on my earlier comments, or answer any other questions if you’d like. Feel free to contact me at paulskousen@comcast.net.
    Cheers. –Paul

  68. Wes,
    I agree with Thomas’s formulation (as usual, he does it better than I do). However, I also believe in an active God in individual lives (certainly, he has been active in mine). This may result in political action, but it certainly doesn’t have to. In the meantime, I tend to think that people who feel that God is inspiring their work may well be right, but I think that it is rare for him to inspire for the reasons or goals that they ascribe to him. I’m certainly at a loss to explain a lot of what God does or doesn’t do. I find I usually have to just go with it.

  69. Steve Evans says:

    This might be going out on a limb, but here goes: anyone who thinks this post is about Cleon Skousen, or the nature of conservatives, or even about the nature of liberals, is wrong. In fact, I feel so strongly about my intuition in this respect that I can say with warmth in my heart that whomever didn’t see this from the get-go is probably a poor reader, and possibly myopic (in both physical and intellectual senses of the term). AMS, as usual, illustrates this.

    Paul S. — your father is a polarizing figure, as you probably realize. I feel like nobody should have to personally defend their father from internet attacks, especially not on a site run by Mormons talking about Mormons. So, apologies for any insults in the comments, and best wishes.

  70. I was at BYU’s law school when Mr. Cleaver, a Black Panther converted by Cleon Skousen on an airplane flight, came to speak.

    I had rather more respect for Skousen after that.

  71. #59
    It’s something the coolest man on television did once while wearing a leather jacket.

  72. Paul, I think you should pay attention to what John C. said in his comment # 36 about biblical scholarship. I say this only because as part of your long comment attempting to exonerate your dad you went into some detail about his breadth and depth of scholarship.

  73. I’ve read before you guys say Skousen’s books “First and second thousand years” etc…were way off biblically. Is there a whole post on this that I could read? or further references to see what is being referred to?

    I’ve read and liked those books (the thousan year things I assume you are addressing), so it’d be nice to know.

  74. britt k, you might be interested in Louis Midgley’s 1970s-era critique of Skousen in Dialogue.

  75. John F…from googling it appears that is about the naked communist. Is that wrong? I’m looking for information about the thousnd years books…perhaps google has misinformed me.

  76. That is correct but as a general matter it will be of interest to you. My sense is that a lot of the critique applies equally to the Leap books and those might actually be addressed directly — it’s been a while since I looked at them.

  77. Hey, his nephew (?) Mark coached my little league team back in 1967. We went 0-12. What more need be said on the whole subject?

  78. I think your post highlights the important of prophets and relying on them to declare the word of the Lord unto each generation and no less relying on the gift of the Holy Ghost to confirm those words to us as well as reveal truths to us as the Lord sees fit. So it would seem important not to dismiss those servants like BKP, BRM, ETB, MGR, DOM, as well as keeping in mind MCD, AAPL and NVDA.

    But seriously, I think we have a plethora of scriptures, particularly later-day revelation, that point out how important liberty is in the plan of salvation. That the Lord didn’t come down and give the US Constitution to the Egyptians does not mean principles there-in were not necessary in forming and maintaining a society where the restoration could take place and not be completely destroyed.

    But really, don’t take my word for it. You can actually turn to the topical guide and read about it before making posts like this:

    I actually thank you for your post, not out of snark, because it is a good learning experience and I hope it can be one for you as well. The questions you asked are good ones and deserve answers–seek them out for yourself. I wouldn’t put much stock (unless it’s of the NVDA variety) in your conclusions, however, if they align with your post title.

    So my hope would be to use the post as a nice launch to finding the truth that fits in with the revealed words of the prophets and scriptures. The comments don’t really seem to do that as we just like to snip at each others heels don’t we? (and I’m not excluded)

  79. Steve Evans says:

    c, thanks for illustrating how easy it is to sound like a total bunghole while trying to convey an obvious and innocuous point.

  80. c,
    You lost me several acronyms in. I’m afraid I’m unispired to find your point, Socrates.

  81. This post reminds me a lot of the epistemology set forth in John Widtsoe’s rational theology.

    The Gospel does not claim possession of ultimate knowledge man is ordinarily allowed to work out for himself the truths of the universe and to organize them into systems of thought which he may follow profitably. Knowledge is given directly by [God] only when it becomes indispensable to do so The distinguishing feature of the Gospel is that it possesses the key to the true philosophy of life. In outline it offers the entire plan of life in the universe

    Ultimately, for Widtsoe, I believe it all comes down to our own ability to reason as the final stopping point in deciding what is and isn’t truth. All truth should be then accepted and no truth should be rejected. I Think that is what this post is truly about.

  82. Further reflection I think this is a really great post to point something out.

    One of the pernicious evils of socialism-corporatism or whatever combi-ism we have in our governments is that it supplants government for God.

    So while we have God’s prophet decreeing something as good in a particular instance. We now think it’s appropriate of a faithless encroaching entity to take the role of God and reveled principles.

    Is it possible that those who support certain policies may be setting up a structure which replaces God with government?

    Certainly if God says “thou shalt not…” we should put some weight on that in terms of what gov. does. But when it’s “thou shalt…” should we require that of the people via legislation? Particularly if it’s divorced from the actual principles God was hoping to be learned from all parties as is often the case when administered by government?

    Steve- I didn’t insult anyone or call them names. I said the conclusions were wrong if they aligned with the post. If mentioning apple stock and mcd stock along with nvidia in a stupid esoteric way in my post didn’t show I was a bit tongue in cheek, my words should now: it was a bit tongue in cheek. Probably a huge cow tongue which flopped out on my keyboard and got in the way of my typing. But that’s how I roll. Some of us do it like this, others use weird insults that sound like they came from Bevis and Butthead a close to 2 decades ago.

  83. c, my insults are vintage and have aged like fine wine. There ought to be a premium for such refined stock.

  84. I was about to ask what the Apple corporation ticker symbol had to do with anything, thinking you obviously meant something else. But no, you’re really just that pretentious.

    But that’s how I roll. Some of us do it like this, others use weird insults that sound like they came from Bevis and Butthead a close to 2 decades ago.

    I’d rather hang with someone who quotes B+B than anyone who says uses “that’s how I roll”.

  85. Rich (59) Here you go.

  86. Must have typed it wrong. Try this link.

  87. Re: 88
    Just to summarize: “Jump the shark” is a slang expression that means something is past it’s prime and on the downward slide toward either cancellation or irrelevance. I see no indication that BCC has jumped the shark, btw.

  88. But when it’s “thou shalt…” should we require that of the people via legislation?

    Thou shalt protect and maintain heterosexual marriage as a central unit of society.

  89. well atleast the jump the shark question has been answered. I was still hoping for a reference to discussion on the First and second thousand years–the biblical series written by Skousen. So far it’s just been stated that it’s bad…as if it’s common knowledge.

  90. Another excellent post by Paul Skousen in defense of his father.

    He’s the only one to write anything of substance in this forum vs. the unsubstantiated attacks on the character and integrity of a good man. But what’s new when it comes to blogs of this nature? You just need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is. ~~ Winston Churchill

  91. britt,
    I would guess that the invention and careless scriptural proof texting that I demonstrate he uses in the opening post are indicative of his scripture interpretation. He’s sloppy and amatuerish there, and I doubt he behaves differently in the 1000 year books you cite. However, I’ve only glanced at them. Perhaps he behaves a lot better in them. If nothing else, you now know what to look for.

    Did you see me endorse a particularly approach to human suffering or human greed in this post? I didn’t intend to and I didn’t try to. It may well be that my liberal instincts are so ingrained that I don’t notice when I liberal all over the place. Certainly I have to be read in a context and that context indicates that I more frequently side with the left than the right, but in this particular post I called them both out for claiming God on their side. Or, at least, tried to (human communication being an iffy process at best).

    As to your question of whether policies supported by some people would replace God with government, I certainly hope not. That would be dumb. Even Mill wondered about the possibility of curtailing the freedom of those who cause harm through inaction. It is a difficult question, one that both public and private sector advocates debate. We don’t usually want to allow complete neglect of one another within a community nor do we want complete control. So the degree of influence, the question of coercion, and the desire to maintain personal freedom and to maintain community standards all play into the difficult decisions we make in order to form and maintain communities. To some degree, I think it is possible for communities to remove obstacles to the spiritual development of human beings. As Thomas Parkin notes, this may or may not be a good thing. In any case, it’s complicated and unlikely to be resolved by two quotes from the GA du jour and a couple of proof texts. In the meantime, I, as ever, appreciate being condescended to by folks I don’t know in brief blog comments. More power to your further attempts to not be misunderstood on teh interwebs.

  92. Rick G,
    Do you have something substantive to contribute?

  93. John, I think this was a great post, and a very important but seldom discussed facet of the gospel.

    I think God stated his focus succinctly in Moses 1:39. He is most interested in an individual’s progression – and probably less concerned about their mortal welfare (or political leanings or freedoms . . . ). People can progress free or slave, man or woman, black or white, blonde or ginger. And like was stated in the parable of the talents, its more important what we do with our talents, than how many we are given.
    However that also shows the paradox, while he probably isn’t particularly worried about whether we are bond or free, I think he is deeply concerned about whether or not we are bonding or freeing. If I, as a person, use my time to enslave others or free others, and how that plays into my eternal progression.
    So maybe he’s less concerned with how we vote, and more concerned with what we do as individuals.

  94. B.Russ,
    I concur. Further I think that he is less concerned with what we do and more concerned with why we do it. But what we do matters, of course.

  95. Well my wife used the thousand year books this year to teach an Old Testament class since she had very little knowlege of the subject. They are laid out in the way we are used to, keeping things simple and presenting speculation as if it were the truth. We like it. It reinforces LDS folklore. So what the heck?

  96. John c…thanks for that. I wasn’t really expecting someone to reinvent the wheel..I just assumed that since most here were taking it as an obvious well known fact, that perhaps there had been a previous post or a paper or something doucmenting this stuff.

  97. It is quite natural for Paul Skousen to defend his father but there are several false statements in his message. I will briefly address two of them here. Anyone who wishes more details may contact me at ernie1241@aol.com

    1. Skousen’s “expertise” on Communism

    The point at issue here is whether or not Cleon Skousen was assigned to work on internal-security-related cases while he served in the FBI. In other words, did he have extensive exposure to such cases and did he have access to the classified information which would support the claims of his admirers that he developed some sort of expertise on communist-related matters while he served in the FBI?

    Skousen’s FBI personnel file is quite clear about these matters. The answer is NO!

    As the FBI’s Chief Inspector (their expert on communist matters) wrote in one memo:

    “As we know, Skousen, when he was in the FBI, did not concentrate in the field of communism.”

    At one point, the Associate Director of the FBI (Clyde Tolson) — who was the #2 official of the FBI asked his subordinates to prepare a summary memo regarding Skousen’s assignments during his FBI career. That memo also makes it clear that Cleon never developed any expertise about communist matters. The memo prepared for Tolson declares that:

    “There is no definite indication in his personnel file that he had any contact with the subject of communism other than the fact that in his first office, which was Omaha, an efficiency report indicated that he handled all types of cases except bank robbery and antitrust. He was assigned to the Omaha Office from August 1940, to December 1940, when he transferred to the Kansas City Office.”

    The very short period Skousen was in Omaha (4 months) makes it very unlikely that he was assigned any internal security cases. In any event, one should consider the fact that the FBI’s Omaha field office had virtually no communist presence in its territory. There were only about 30 CPUSA members in the entire state of Nebraska!

    It is quite clear from Skousen’s personnel file that he had very limited investigative experience. Most of his career was devoted to administrative assignments—which is why so many of his performance reports refer to that type of work such as supervising the production of two FBI employee publications, training and supervising staff in the Mail Review and Dispatch Unit, conducting VIP tours of FBI HQ, doing research and preparing lectures for police training schools, as well as material on juvenile delinquency matters, plus being assigned to work on field office inspections.

    Nobody in the Bureau who actually was an expert on communist-related matters or whose assignments were primarily investigative in nature was assigned to work on field office inspections!! Get real Paul!

    Paul is VERY mistaken when he writes that Hoover had “all of them studying Communism” (referring to FBI Special Agents).

    In the course of my research, I have obtained literally DOZENS of FBI Special Agent personnel files. Many Special Agents NEVER were assigned to work on communist-related matters.

    More importantly, the Agents who actually were the Bureau’s experts in internal security-related classifications worked within the Domestic Intelligence Division (formerly known as the Security Division).

    Without exception, if they developed expertise in communist-related matters, their performance reports specifically mentioned that. Significantly, Skousen’s DO NOT.

    In fact, no less an authority than J. Edgar Hoover responded to one inquiry about Cleon Skousen by stating that:

    “I welcome the opportunity to make it perfectly clear that former Special Agents of the FBI are not necessarily experts on communism. Some of them have sought to capitalize on their former employment with this Bureau for the purpose of establishing themselves as such authorities. I am firmly convinced there are too many self-styled experts on communism, without valid credentials and without any access whatsoever to classified, factual data, who are engaging in rumor mongering and hurling false and wholly unsubstantiated allegations against people whose views differ from their own. This makes more difficult the task of the professional investigator.”

    “Mr. W. Cleon Skousen entered on duty with the FBI as a clerk on October 24, 1935, in which capacity he served until June 17, 1940, when he became a Special Agent. He voluntarily resigned the latter position on October 5, 1951. Mr. Skousen is no longer associated with the FBI and his opinions are strictly his own and do not represent this Bureau in any way.” [HQ 94-47468, #49; 4/17/62 J. Edgar Hoover reply to Sister Mary Shaun, Notre Dame Convent, Trenton, NJ.]

    Let me cite one example of the type of comment which routinely was made in a performance report of an Agent who ACTUALLY DID develop expertise in communism-related matters:
    4/7/48 = Performance evaluation describes Special Agent Sullivan as “sole Supervisor assigned to Central Research Desk” where he provided “concrete assistance to the Supervisors here at the Seat of Government and the Agents in the field concerned with the conduct of investigations relating to the Communist movement.” [HQ 67-205182, #150; 4/7/48]

    There is not even ONE comparable comment about Skousen in ALL of his performance reports — NOT ONE! And I am not referring to the “supervisor” aspect — just the more generic discussion regarding “investigations of communism”.


    Paul FALSELY claims that “Skousen was one of two people authorized to speak for the FBI in behalf of Hoover on police work and communism.”

    When I have asked other people who make this absurd claim to tell me the name of the alleged second speaker on communism, the only name they have proposed is Dan Smoot which is preposterous if you review Smoot’s personnel file.

    Many Special Agent personnel files which I have obtained reveal the names of the Agents who spoke on communism during the 1940′s.

    For example:

    * Milton A. Jones (Chief, Research Section, Crime Records Section)

    * Joseph F. Condon (Supervisor, Central Research Section)

    * James F. Bland (Chief of the Subversive Control Section, formerly Assistant Supervisor, New York field office, handling Communist and loyalty investigations)

    * Alan Belmont (Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office who later became Assistant Director in Charge of the Domestic Intelligence Division)

    * Charles D. Brennan (who was a Supervisor within the Central Research Section–the FBI unit which researched and wrote numerous monographs about the CPUSA)

    * Fred J. Baumgardner (Supervisor, Sabotage Section of Security Division, who later became Section Chief of the Internal Security Section within the Domestic Intelligence Division) and

    * William C. Sullivan (who later became Chief Inspector and Assistant Director in charge of the Domestic Intelligence Division)

    Notice the common denominators in all these examples, i.e.

    (1) these Agents worked in the Security Division later known as Domestic Intelligence Division and/or

    (2) they worked in the FBI unit which did research and prepared monographs about the communist movement. Cleon Skousen did not work in the Security or Domestic Intelligence Division and his work in the Crime Records Section (CRS) did not involve research and writing on communism.

    Skousen worked in CRS starting in August 1944. His assignments were described as follows:

    “Since his assignment in Crime Records he had general supervision over the preparation of ‘FBI This Week’ and ‘The Investigator’ and had done a very good job on each. At the present time he was being quite successful in the improving each publication and creating additional interest in the magazines on the part of Bureau personnel. He had handled several assignments involving original writing and had done a uniformly good job on each. He had also handled a number of very special tours in a very creditable manner. He had likewise filled several speaking engagements and the response from each was uniformly good. He was without doubt one of the Bureau’s outstanding speakers.”

    Subsequent performance reports in 1945 again refer to his supervision of the two FBI internal publications mentioned above, his giving tours of FBI HQ, plus lectures to FBI employees, etc. In May 1945, his superior within CRS commented favorably upon Skousen’s “administrative and executive ability” and he recommended that Skousen be considered for further advancement — but the area of “advancement” was not investigations or internal-security related matters.

    In June 1945, Skousen transferred from HQ to the Los Angeles field office due to health reasons. His actual posting was to San Bernardino. His assignments were described in August 1945 as “selective service investigation, and recently was assigned to a special squad investigating black market activities”.

    In January 1946 his Special Agent in Charge (SAC) recommended him for possible development as a SAC — i.e. the person in charge of a field office.

    In March 1946, his performance report once again refers to his involvement in selective service matters, his expertise as a “firearms instructor”, and his potential for “supervisory or administrative” assignments.

    In April 1946, Skousen completed “a specialized course in juvenile control at the Seat of Government and was now qualified as an instructor in Juvenile control. He was also qualified as a general police instructor.”

    In May 1946, the SAC in Portland OR “advised that Skousen handled the subjects of ‘Public Relations’ and ‘Juvenile Delinquency’ at the statewide school of Police Administration held in Portland May 6th to 9th.”

    In July 1946, Skousen, once again, was recommended for possible consideration for “supervisory and administrative duties”.

    In August 1946, Skousen was commended “for the excellent manner in which he conducted an interview with Mr. John M. Zook, Los Angeles County Probation Officer”.

    In February 1947, Skousen was attached to “general criminal squad” of the Los Angeles office and “in addition, he assisted in police school work…”

    In March 1947 — more of the same. More references to his appearances before Police Training schools where he “had expended a great deal of his own personal time in research”.

    In the period April 1947 thru March 1948 — more of the same: “the majority of his time” was working as a police school instructor, and he gave some speeches before local groups, plus he worked on writing “the Crime Survey and Interesting Case Write-Ups”. There are references to his “research” during this time but those references are “doing research on police administration and supervision, juvenile matters, crime conditions, and allied matters”.

    In December 1948, Skousen is commended for his participation in inspections of the Butte MT and Salt Lake City field offices.

    In all subsequent performance reports until his retirement, more of the same comments i.e. Skousen was a good writer, dependable and energetic and he did “outstanding work in connection with research matters, particularly on the subject of juvenile delinquency, concerning which he had received specialized training”.

    Unlike other Bureau Agents, there is NO indication that Skousen ever was given the responsibility of giving speeches to groups where classified security information was shared. Instead, Skousen’s speaking engagements were to groups like PTA’s, Rotary Clubs, YMCA, etc.
    By contrast, other agents (from Domestic Intelligence/Security Division) were assigned to speak to such groups as:

    * U.S. Army Intelligence School – Senior Foreign Officer Intelligence staff
    * CIA
    * Department of State, Office of Security
    * National Counterintelligence Corps Association
    * Naval War College
    * Air Command Staff College

    PLUS: Almost 100% of the time, after the Agents gave their speeches, the Bureau received letters from the senior official of the group commending the Agents who made these speeches and those letters appear in the Agent’s personnel file.

    In fact, it was not uncommon for these groups to specifically request that the same FBI Special Agents appear again before their groups at their subsequent classes/seminars.

    By contrast, the commendation letters appearing in Skousen’s personnel file are exclusively from general public organizations — not military, intelligence, or security units.

    In short: Skousen was assigned general public relations-type speaking engagements. Most of his speeches were relatively short. By contrast, the ACTUAL Bureau experts in security-related matters usually gave very detailed speeches before groups whose participants required security clearances to attend.

    Here are some of the speech titles given by FBI Special Agents at such events.

    “Communist Philosophy and Objectives” — to Military Assistance Institute
    “Subversive Activities” — to U.S. Army Intelligence School
    “Current Tactics and Objectives of the CPUSA” — to CIA officers
    “Communism, Intelligence, Espionage in the U.S.” — to Ft. Benning GA Seminar on American Strategy
    “Communism in the United States” — to U.S. Military Academy, West Point
    “Communism” — to Internal Security Quarterly Conference — Albuquerque NM


    Essentially, this article repeats the observations made by Cleon in his book, “The Naked Capitalist.”

    I copy below the “Synopsis” section from the FBI memo which was written in response to J. Edgar Hoover’s request for an analysis of what Skousen wrote.

    If, as Paul contends, his father developed such compelling expertise about communism-related matters while working at the FBI — one wonders why (as this “Synopsis” reveals) Skousen couldn’t get basic factual material correct??


    Purpose of memorandum is to answer Director’s inquiry regarding article captioned as above in March 1971 issue of Law and Order magazine…We are circumspect with Skousen because of his efforts to capitalize on Bureau career to benefit his anticommunist activities. Article claims ‘dynastic rich’ (inheritors of wealth) subsidizing ‘force of violent revolution’ to help rich take over country for ‘good’ of humanity.

    Skousen’s claim that Karl Marx turned to ‘democratic socialism’ as means to seize power not substantiated. Marx never renounced violence of class struggle or proletarian revolution.

    Skousen claim that wealthy class financed Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 not supported by research and his charge that Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb and Company gave $20 million for ‘final triumph of Bolshevism’ not validated.

    Skousen’s allegations that tax exempt foundations have given money to civil rights groups and functionaries, including several militant black nationalists are generally valid but include inaccuracies. Several grants verified, as listed by Skousen, from Ford Foundation to organizations he alleges carry out ‘policies and propaganda favoring a globalist strategy.’

    Skousen’s reference to ‘left-wing collectivists’ seeking Federal constitutional convention is unsubstantiated. Only such effort known was made by late Senator Everett Dirksen who wanted amendment negating U.S. Supreme Court 1964‘one man, one vote’ ruling which calls for equal population in voting districts.”

    —Also see my Skousen report
    for this:

    “In October 1961 Skousen participated as a speaker in an “anti-communism school” in New Orleans under the auspices of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade. Ed Palmer, a local television station (WDSU-TV) commentator contacted the Bureau concerning “a number of startling and unbelievable charges” made by Skousen during his speech.

    One of Skousen’s assertions was that “Harry Hopkins in 1943 had turned over to the Russians 50 suitcases of information concerning the Manhattan Project.”

    Palmer asked for confirmation that Skousen actually had been an FBI Special Agent. A Bureau memo discussing this controversy states:

    “Apparently Skousen, Schwarz, et al are becoming more and more irresponsible and have apparently succumbed to the philosophy that the ends justify the means.” [HQ file 94-47468, no serial #; 10/26/61 memo from C.D. DeLoach to Mr. Mohr regarding W. Cleon Skousen Statements on Communism, New Orleans Louisiana 10-24-61.]

    The Bureau received another inquiry concerning Skousen’s assertions regarding Harry Hopkins. An official of the Jefferson Parish (LA) Chamber of Commerce asked Hoover “Is The Naked Communist based entirely on fact? Is the information concerning Harry Hopkins true, especially the part that he obtained and gave to the Russian Communists Top Secret information on the Atomic Bomb and almost half of our supply of refined uranium?”

    The file copy of Hoover’s reply contains the following notation:

    “It is noted that on page 167 of his book…Skousen states that Harry Hopkins, former aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, supplied Russia with a large quantity of uranium during the early 1940’s. Bufiles contain no information to support this charge or to indicate that Hopkins was engaged in subversive activity.” [HQ 94-47468, #37; 11/1/61 Hoover reply to David A. Moynan Jr., Chairman, Operation Americanism of Jefferson Parish Junior Chamber of Commerce, Metairie LA.]

    I will be providing more examples of profound errors in Skousen’s writings about communism in the next edition of my report.

    Even when Cleon wrote his 1963 pamphlet “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society” he made incredible factual errors which any high school student would recognize. So let’s stop pretending he developed some sort of expertise regarding communism just because he worked in the FBI. His assignments in the FBI were predominantly administrative — not investigative.

    During most of his early career he worked in the Administrative Division and then in the Records and Communications Division — neither of which had anything whatsoever to do with internal security related matters.

    In fact, as late as March 1944 J. Edgar Hoover admonished Skousen over an incident in the unit which Skousen supervised at that time which involved “the failure of one of the employees of the Mail Review and Dispatch Unit to carry out specific instructions in connection with the mailing of a letter which was to receive special handling in the Washington field office” and Hoover declared that such a failure “reflected upon the administration of his [Skousen’s] office.”

    Later that same month, Skousen was assigned to work in the Washington field office for two weeks (!) where he was assigned to “general investigations”. In the second week he worked on “security matter investigations”


    Lastly, there is a context which is very important to remember when discussing Skousen’s post-FBI endeavors.

    Senior FBI officials (including Assistant Directors and Supervisors and Section Chiefs in the security-related units of the Bureau) routinely described Skousen as associating himself with “extreme right” groups and viewpoints. In many cases, the Bureau described these individuals/groups as “professional anti-communists”. For example, the Bureau comment about Dr. Fred Schwarz/Christian Anti-Communism Crusade:

    “As we know, Dr. Schwarz is an opportunist and we are not having anything to do with him and his activities. It might be added that such people as Dr. Schwarz are largely responsible for misinforming people and stirring them up emotionally to the point that when FBI lecturers present the truth, it becomes very difficult for the misinformed to accept it. In my opinion, Schwarz and others like him can only do the country and the anticommunist work of the Bureau harm.”

    As we know, Skousen endorsed the John Birch Society. Paul Skousen claims that his dad had some sort of disagreement with the JBS — but there is no public record to document any such disagreement. Instead, there is the FACT that Skousen was a paid speaker under the auspices of the Birch Society’s American Opinion Speakers Bureau!

    We have to ask ourselves this obvious question:

    If, as Paul and Skousen-admirers claim, Cleon Skousen developed some special understanding about internal-security related matters (particularly communism) while he was employed by the FBI — how does one explain that Skousen associated himself with organizations and beliefs which the FBI categorically rejected as false, or gross distortions, and harmful to the anti-communist cause?

  98. With respect to Paul Skousen’s comment that his dad’s relationship with J. Edgar Hoover should be characterized as a “friendship” that “can be seen in personal letters in Skousen’s journals.”

    The best way to address this assertion is in Q&A format — which follows:

    1. DURING Cleon Skousen’s FBI employment, what was Hoover’s evaluation of Cleon Skousen?

    A: Probably positive since all of Skousen’s performance reports rated him favorably and several of his supervisors recommended Skousen for advancement.

    2. AFTER Skousen retired from the FBI, what was Hoover’s evaluation of Cleon Skousen?

    A: Once Skousen associated himself with what both Hoover and the Bureau consider “extreme rightist” and “professional anti-communist” individuals and organizations — the “friendship” with Skousen evaporated.

    3. How we do know that Hoover and senior FBI officials dramatically cooled toward Skousen?

    A: Because:

    (1) During Hoover’s Warren Commission testimony he was asked to comment upon an article published by the John Birch Society. Hoover chose to ignore the specific question he was asked and, instead, he used the opportunity to express his displeasure with the persons/organizations that disseminated the type of assertions associated with the Birch Society.

    Specifically, Hoover stated:

    “I have read that piece. My comment on it is this in general: I think the extreme right is just as much a danger to the freedom of this country as the extreme left. There are groups, organizations, and individuals on the extreme right who make these very violent statements, allegations that General Eisenhower was a Communist, disparaging references to the Chief Justice and at the other end of the spectrum you have these leftists who make wild statements charging almost anybody with being a Fascist or belonging to some of these so-called extreme right societies.”

    “Now, I have felt, and I have said publicly in speeches, that they are just as much a danger, at either end of the spectrum. They don’t deal with facts. Anybody who will allege that General Eisenhower was a Communist agent, has something wrong with him. A lot of people read such allegations because I get some of the weirdest letters wanting to know whether we have inquired to find out whether that is true. I have known General Eisenhower quite well myself and I have found him to be a sound, level-headed man.” [Warren Commission testimony, Volume 5, page 101]

    (2) One FBI internal memo contains a handwritten comment by Hoover concerning a controversy in Florida between Cong. Claude Pepper and Birchers. Hoover’s comment was:

    “I would no more give a boost to Pepper than I would to the Birchites. They are two extremes and equally bad.”
    [HQ 62-104401, no serial #, April 27, 1962, D.C. Morrell to C.D. DeLoach].

    (3) During a November 1964 press conference, Hoover did something quite unusual for him. He expressed his unvarnished opinion about a specific person — namely, JBS founder/leader Robert Welch.

    Hoover declared:

    “Personally, I have little respect for the head of the John Birch Society since he linked the names of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the late John Foster Dulles, and former CIA Director Allen Dulles with communism.”

    (4) So what was Cleon Skousen’s interpretation of the John Birch Society?

    A: Skousen regurgitated JBS press releases about itself. For example:

    “In the case of the John Birch Society, those who editorialized or otherwise propagandized against ‘the terrible Birchers’ usually did so without realizing they were promoting the official Communist Party line. And, as usual, this line turned out to be a careful calculated deception designed to confuse the American people.” [Skousen 1963 pamphlet, “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society”]

    Presumably, therefore, Skousen thought J. Edgar Hoover and senior FBI officials were “promoting the official Communist Party line”.

    (5) What did the FBI do once it discovered that Skousen associated himself with an organization which Hoover characterized as a “right-wing extremist” group, and which Hoover declared “represented just as much a danger to the freedom of this country as the extreme left” ??

    A: After Associate Director Tolson discovered that Skousen was on the Bureau’s “Special Correspondents List” he directed that Skousen be removed from it. J. Edgar Hoover handwrote “Right” on the bottom of the memo discussing the matter. [HQ 94-47468, no serial number; 9/8/61 memo from C.D. DeLoach to Mr. Tolson.]

    So much for the “friendship” between Hoover and Skousen.

  99. I remember coming across this: http://www.believeallthings.com/4133/cleon-skousen/
    , including the comments.

  100. In response to Grego:

    By definition, “independent research” means that you engage your critical faculties while checking the historical record to determine what is accurate and truthful and factual.

    Independent research does not mean relying exclusively upon the recollections, anecdotes, or explanations of the person whom you are researching.

    For example, the very first paragraph of Skousen’s explanation which is contained in the link you provided states:

    “Shortly after we moved to Utah in 1952 and joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, I was asked to give talks on the threat of Communism as I encountered it in the FBI.”

    In order to understand the significance and relevance of this comment by Skousen, one would first have to determine what “encounter” Skousen had with communist-related matters during his FBI service. Then, one would still have to analyze the text of whatever Skousen wrote about communism to determine whether or not it contained materially important errors of fact, analysis, or judgment.

    If you perform independent research into Skousen’s FBI career, you will quickly discover that virtually all of his career was spent performing administrative assignments. Furthermore, he was not even assigned to work in the FBI Division which contained the Bureau’s actual experts on communist-related matters (the Security Division – later known as the Domestic Intelligence Division).

    Instead, Skousen worked in the Administrative Division and the Records and Communications Division — and toward the end of his FBI career he was assigned to work primarily on juvenile control matters, police training schools, black market activities, and field office inspections.

    Significantly, footnote #5 of the article you linked to, contains this comment:

    “The premise for The Naked Capitalist corroborates Antony Sutton’s work…”

    If you read my Skousen report you will see my discussion of how Dr. Sutton demolished one of the premises concerning financing of the Bolshevik Revolution which Cleon Skousen and many other extreme right authors have mistakenly included in their narratives.

    Furthermore, Dr. Sutton wrote an article entitled “The State of Research Concerning Power Elites” which appears on pages 4-6 of the Summer 1977 issue of Conspiracy Digest. That article demolishes standard extreme right arguments which rely upon books by people such as John Robison and Nesta Webster which use a “master conspiracy” explanation for past historical events. Perhaps the most prolific supporters of the Robison/Webster argument has been the John Birch Society — an organization which enthusiastically Skousen endorsed. Significantly, senior officials of the FBI (including their experts about internal security matters) rejected the Birch Society as “extremist”, “irrational”, “irresponsible”. Those same FBI officials also rejected Cleon Skousen’s post-FBI activities as harmful to their anti-communist work. For example, as you probably know, Skousen was a frequent “faculty member” for Fred Schwarz’s “anti-communism” schools under the auspices of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade.

    Here, then, is the FBI evaluation of Fred Schwarz:

    “As we know, Dr. Schwarz is an opportunist and we are not having anything to do with him and his activities. It might be added that such people as Dr. Schwarz are largely responsible for misinforming people and stirring them up emotionally to the point that when FBI lecturers present the truth, it becomes very difficult for the misinformed to accept it. In my opinion, Schwarz and others like him can only do the country and the anticommunist work of the Bureau harm.”

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