On Moral Issues and Trump – Updated

iwasastranger_siteToday, the church is hesitant to enter into the political sphere. For the most part, I think that’s the right decision: church leaders don’t have any expertise in public policy or governance.

The church has, however, reserved the right to speak to “issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences.” Over the last couple years, it has invoked its right—duty, even—to speak to issues ranging from the legalization of recreational marijuana and physician-assisted suicide to alcohol laws in Utah to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

It has been outspoken in its support of religious liberty. As far back as 1992, Elder Oaks testified in support of of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and he has continued to emphasize the importance of religious liberty.

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States for the next 90 days, and banning Syrian refugees indefinitely.

This Executive Order is deeply immoral. It violates the fundamental scriptural duty to care for and welcome strangers, to love our neighbors, and to support the vulnerable. And we find that injunction throughout scripture.

In the Hebrew Bible we read that because the chosen people were strangers in the land of Egypt, the Lord forbids them(us) from “opress[ing] a stranger” and, in fact, requires us to “love … the stranger.” In fact, Ezekiel tells us, the sin of Sodom was that its residents lived in their abundance and refused to help the poor and the needy.

The New Testament is similarly resplendent with the mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves, and defines “neighbor” far more broadly than those we love, or those in our immediate vicinity.[fn1]

In the Book of Mormon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis break from the Lamanites and, in doing so, face death and the threat of death. Ammon leads the people—refugees, all—back to the Nephites, who are at war with the Lamanites. And the Nephites not only vote to take in the refugees, but, in fact, give them land and protect them from their former people.

Banning immigrants, then, is deeply immoral, and un-Christian. And worse, the banning is occurring on explicitly religious grounds. While it doesn’t explicitly forbid Muslims from entering the United States, Trump has made clear that the exemption he has provided for persecuted religious minorities is mean to apply to Christians. In doing so, he rejects the tenets of religious liberty so dear to both the United States and to our own religious beliefs.

I was heartened to see that more than 2,000 religious leaders have signed on to a letter opposing Trump’s immoral attack on the poorest and the weakest. But none of our leaders’ names are on that letter; seeing that brought me to tears.

I know that our church leaders care deeply about immigrants, and about refugees. And I know that they’re willing to stand up and comment on moral matters. I also know the executive order was just signed yesterday, so there’s still time for them to add their names to this letter, or to make their own independent statement.

Trump’s mistreatment of refugees is easily the most pressing moral matter in the United States at this moment. It deserves nothing more than our scorn and our opposition. And if ever there was a moment for the church to use its moral soapbox, now is that moment.[fn2]

Update 1/29/17 12:06 am: The Newsroom has released the following statement. It’s a nice enough sentiment, but it’s oddly passive and even more oddly unspecific. And it’s not attributed to anybody. Which is to say, if it’s better than nothing, it’s only barely better:

In response to recent media inquiries, the following statement has been released:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The Church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering.”


[fn1] For more examples of the biblical mandate to receive refugees and help the poor, you can read this.

[fn2] And, for the record, the church can explicitly call out Donald Trump. I understand why it didn’t take a stand during the election: section 501(c)(3) prohibits tax-exempt organizations from supporting or opposing candidates for office. But he is no longer a candidate, and nothing in section 501(c)(3) prohibits tax-exempt organizations from opposing—by name!—government officials who are not current candidates.

Comments

  1. Amen. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for saying what needs to be said, Sam. The church has spoken up about religious freedom so often, and now here is an actual religious discrimination, a religious test that refugees must pass in order to find protection and a future here, in our land of plenty. It’s wrong. What America is doing is wrong. So many churches are speaking up, speaking out—where are we? We can sing for Trump, but we can’t disagree with him? We can’t hold him accountable?

  3. Amen. A thousand amens. Thank you.

  4. There is an extra layer of institutional immorality in this action. Many of the immigrants from these countries are holding visas because they are not strangers to us. Rather they are citizens of the banned countries who have, at their own peril, assisted American embassies or military, and are seeking asylum against retaliation in their home countries. But Donald is either not aware of these or does not care. Either way, he has a history or not paying inconvenient debts.

  5. Amen.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    If the Church looks the other way on this situation they forfeit the right to utter the words “religious freedom” ever again.

  7. Thank you, Sam.

  8. I previously worked in government at both the state and federal level. The LDS church is very transactional when it comes to dealing with public officials. They have lobbyists in Utah & some of the mountain states and in D.C. The purpose of the lobbyists are to get things done for the church, ie. modify legislation or an administrative rule, etc. I have never, ever seen the Church directly criticize any U.S. or state government official, no matter how bad their behavior. They never denounced Nixon when he was facing impeachment nor Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal or Arizona Governor Evan Mecham (a mormon) when he was being removed for obstruction of justice. Frankly, it is all about what the Church wants, not leading morally when governmental officials engage in bad behavior. I expect nothing here.

  9. Olde Skool says:

    I second Kevin Barney’s comment, above.

  10. Love this.

  11. The church has shown it’s perfectly able to denounce political actions when it comes to gay marriage and other matters. Their silence here on the refugee and immigration issues is deafening. To be fair, I suspect at least some of the top leadership are pushing for a public statement.

  12. Amen! The Church cannot pound the pulpit about religious freedom for our own interests without speaking strongly against Pres. Trump’s Muslim ban. Would Christ sit on the sidelines and not speak out? My heart/mind and his example say “No!”. The Church can’t have it both ways. I’m so disappointed with the lack of response, so far.

  13. How much time elapsed between the issuing of the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion and a statement by the church? And then a letter to be read over the pulpit that Sunday. Perhaps the church only moves that quickly and decisively when a true moral issue is present, like the proper ordering of sexual relationships. But not for dead toddlers washing ashore on the beaches of the First World. I guess that’s not an ““issue that it believes has significant community or moral consequences.”

  14. Of note, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has indicated his displeasure with this action.

  15. My heart has been broken all day by the lack or response from our church leaders. It seems that on nearly every moral issue we are leading from the ground up (and sometimes suffering church discipline for it). As we do so, our leadership becomes less and less relevant in ways that also make me sad. Thanks for your thoughtful essay Sam.

  16. Steve Rotterdam says:

    Hear, hear! Should be read from every pulpit and in front of every RS, EQ and HP group at the ward level. If the body of the church thinks that it’s best not to rock the boat – to go along to get along – I’ve got ancestors who were turned into lampshades that would argue different. “Never again” is a stand we all should take on behalf of all God’s children.

  17. The refugee ban has broke my heart and taken me to the ground. Our church’s silence on the matter is like watching the ambulance arrive, but the EMT’s remain in the vehicle and watch me slowly dying in front of them. Why? How much shame can we handle?

  18. The church has previously spoken in reaction Trump’s suggestion of banning Muslims during the election as a violation of religious freedom. They have also repeatedly encouraged aiding refugees as a moral imperative (the Deseret News editorial board encouraged this just a few weeks ago). I find the silence right now deafening. This is more than a little concerning.

  19. Kristine A says:

    If you only support religious freedom for people of your own faith, you don’t support religious freedom. – @rachelheldevans

    When Christians ask why so many people are abandoning faith, I will point to days like this on the calendar and say: “This is why.” – @johnpavlovitz

    To Catholic leaders, commentators and legislators who have been arguing for religious liberty: Stand up for your Muslim brothers and sisters – @JamesMartinSJ

    i have nothing more to add

  20. I gave an EQ lesson a few weeks ago in my very conservative, orthodox, republican Arizona Ward about refugees. I was supposed to teach a lesson from the Presidents manual but found a quote that let me segue right to Elder Kearon’s “I Was a Stranger” talk. I spent the rest of the time discussing refugee’s and how we could help them. I plead with the quorum to help a local refugee charity that is listed on justserve.org that my family has helped out some.

    I wasn’t sure how the lesson would go or be perceived. But I did receive several compliments afterwards. So I believe even the most conservative, orthodox amongst us can see the problem here.

    This is our problem. This is the Church’s problem.

  21. In 1933, shortly after Hitler’s popular election to the Reichschancellorship, Bonhoeffer addressed a group of German clergy about “three possible ways in which the church can act towards the state.”

    “The first … was for the church to question the state regarding its actions and their legitimacy–to help the state be the state as God has ordained. The second way–and here he took a bold leap–was to ‘aid victims of state action.’ He said that the church ‘has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society.’ And before that sentence was over, he took another leap, far bolder than the first–in fact, some ministers walked out–by declaring that the church ‘has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society, *even if they do not belong to the Christian community*.’ … The third way the church can act towards the state, he said, ‘is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.’ The translation is awkward, but he meant that a stick must be jammed into the spokes of the wheel to stop the vehicle. It is sometimes not enough to help those crushed by the evil action of a state; at some point the church must directly take action against the state to stop it from perpetrating evil.”

    (Bonhoeffer by Metaxas, p. 154.)

    The LDS church is having trouble getting to Bonhoeffer Level 1.

  22. After hearing the news, I immediately looked for church statement. Nothing. It’s worse than deafening. It’s destroying faith.

    There’s a ‘fireside’ tonight in my stake with Elder Anderson. I’m tempted to ask about the silence. But the fireside is for the youth. I don’t feel right ‘hijacking’ the forum. But then again . . . we can talk about combatting the evils of the world. Or we can actually do it.

    Even if Trump’s Executive Order is illegal, the damage is done. Likewise, even if the church releases a statement this instant, the damage is done. This is not something one needs to ‘think about.’ It’s thus difficult to see the Church as other than a politicking machine at this point in terms of religious freedom. Very difficult.

  23. My heart aches for Elder Kearon also. He courageously brought this to the forefront. He continues to address in World Leadership Conferences. This has to hurt his heart so much.

  24. By the way, all the anti-Trump Mormon Republicans who nevertheless urged us to give President Trump a chance a week ago during his inauguration should feel pretty stupid now.

  25. We should help refugees and have a more welcoming immigration strategy that helps to integrate people into our society with several key principles at the foundation: charity, liberty, rule of law, personal accountability.

    But this…

    “Today, the church is hesitant to enter into the political sphere. For the most part, I think that’s the right decision: church leaders don’t have any expertise in public policy or governance”

    This is a terrible rationale. Terrible. You should but enter the political sphere unless you have expertise in public policy or governance?

    That’s just a terrible analysis on so many accounts. By is own merits it’s wrong. The church has a history of governance right down to its early days — territory of Deseret or Nauvou? The church leaders govern corporations, organizations, govern the entire world wide church. The collective body of the Apostles and General Authorities are arguably the most experience at governance in the entire world — and they’ve inherited a history and culture of governance which they study and deliberate on and were even trained by from the second, arguably most experienced governance council in the world, and so on.

    But more important than that, what qualifies them to get involved are three simple words: we the people.

    They don’t get involved for lack of qualification, but for other reasons.

  26. The Church needs to make a statement from the perspective of being a worldwide, international Christian church. What does this say to all the members outside the USA? The Church and its members in the USA need to remember they are a part of an international organization. This is not a Utah church, not a Mormon Belt church and not an American church. Members in the US, especially within the Mormon Belt forget this. The Church itself sometimes needs a reminder of this also. What better opportunity than now to express this?

  27. You are completely missing the mark. The Church has made numerous statements on the issue pertaining to refugees and our responsibility to help them in any possible means way before this was even signed into effect. You conveniently left out the Nephite tactic that involved persuading enemies of the state to either fight or die in opposition, which is more than controversial by today’s standards, but keeping trying to use the keystone against the Church. Additionally, it is always best to tactfully respond to actions rather than react and be a Monday night quarterback. The bans imposed are not against Muslims, they are against countries that either sponsor terrorism or have gigantic hotbeds of terrorist activity. There are Christians and non-Abrahamic religious people impacted just as much by the executive order as well. During the temporary ban, major efforts need to be asserted in order to pursue an effective and efficient means of screening refugees and immigrants to ensure they are not enemies of the United States, but we do not want to end up infiltrated and then attacked like France, Belgium and Germany. The Obama administration’s inability to take action in Syria led to today’s problems, and actions are being taken to shore up our security. But, despite all this, I will maintain my faith that the Lord’s prophets and oracles are indeed living and acting in His behalf. It is His Church and He leads the Brethren to do His own will. Signing a letter is worth much less than actively being involved in assisting the refugees, as the Church has been doing for years.

  28. ” they are against countries that either sponsor terrorism or have gigantic hotbeds of terrorist activity,”

    Except for the ones that have Trump properties in them…

    It’s a religious ban. Pretending otherwise is shameful.

  29. G, You are completely missing the mark. Look at the church’s recent public statements regarding, say, same-sex marriage–something the church had a stance on for years. Yet still they made statements. Why not now? You advocate looking at a bigger picture. Look at one yourself.

  30. I was appalled last Saturday when E. Oaks held a conference on “Religious Freedom” that was really just about gay marriage. I had expected that it would be about the campaign rhetoric about a Muslim ban which is the biggest religious freedom violation of my lifetime. Now, less than a week later, we are seeing an actual Muslim ban that (as MDearest so aptly points out) isn’t JUST a religious freedom ban but also a violation of the trust of brave allies who have supported our nation – interpreters working with our troops and individuals in our country on Visas – this is a religious ban and also makes us as a nation liars and untrustworthy. For shame!

    We’ve utterly lost our moral authority. There is no justification for this reckless, callous and cowardly ban. Where is our moral center? How can we remain silent??

  31. Angela, thanks for your comment. This is my fear: it’s just been made clear that when church leaders say ‘religious freedom,’ that what the general membership seems to have interpreted it as (carte blanche against same-sex couples) is, indeed, what the leaders mean–and nothing more; despite appearances, as Sam points out, of having a history of a welcome hand. When push comes to shove, the leaders are looking fairly fickle on ‘religious freedom.’

  32. G. writes: “The bans imposed are not against Muslims, they are against countries that either sponsor terrorism or have gigantic hotbeds of terrorist activity. There are Christians and non-Abrahamic religious people impacted just as much by the executive order as well.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. The executive order specifically carves out minority religions in those countries (i.e. non-Muslims) from the ban. So it’s specifically anti-Muslim rank bigotry. Defend that, if you can, but don’t deny that it is what it is.

  33. In 2011, the Obama administration froze refugee processing for 6 months from Iraq. Was it bigoted? In 2015, the Obama administration signed the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. It’s this act that Trump is claiming the authority to conduct the current freeze.

    If you find it intolerable that Trump controls the government, that’s because government controls too much. When we tear down the checks and balances in the name of expediency you should not be surprised when the tables are turned.

    The nations embrace of Obama over Romney, and Obama’s poor decision to involve Hillary in his cabinet (among other poor decisions) have not only gifted us with Trump as our President, but enabled him to use the same pen and phone as well.

    Thanks Obama?

  34. P.L. That’s one way to look at it. Narrow. Libertarian. Predictable. But a way to look at it. Misses all sorts of nuance and historical context. And also has nothing to do with this post really. Find a political soapbox somewhere else. The OP is talking about a statement from the Church. But thanks for playing.

  35. P.L., it is despicable to use other people’s suffering to score a partisan political point. There is a way to discuss the issue you raise without being a useless slug, but you chose the low road.

    Now, why don’t you pick yourself up? Turn your attention to the suffering that Trump’s policies are causing and do what you can to alleviate it.

  36. P.L., I’m not sure what your point is. That an anti-Muslim ban isn’t immoral because others have limited immigration?

    G, you’re absolutely right that the church has worked to aid refugees. And you know what’s really cool? That signing a document condemning this immoral executive order isn’t incompatible with helping refugees; the church can do both. And, in fact, many of the signatories to the letter that I’m familiar with provide real, significant aid to refugees and signed a letter condemning the executive order.

    Thank you, everybody, for your engagement here.

  37. I hope you’re right about time to add names or make an independent statement. Church leadership appears unable to move quickly (with exceptions, as when a change has been long anticipated, or if coincidentally an issue arises just in time to go on the weekly meeting agenda). Taking a position directly contrary to a sitting government anywhere in world would be a big deal, but I hold out hope that it’s coming.

  38. Do you think the Brethren would get upset if any of us signed the interfaith petition as something like “John Doe, elder, LDS Church Such-and-Such Ward”. or “Jane Doe, Priestess (future), LDS Church Such-and-Such Ward”?

    A number of years ago I lost faith in looking to church leaders (of any faith, including mine) for guidance on political issues with moral components, God blessed me and everyone else with a conscience (or the “light of Christ”), and that is what I try to follow. Sometimes it aligns with positions taken by my church, and sometimes it does not.

    I was pleasantly surprised when in 2015 my Church directly rebuked Trump during the campaign with respect to his call to ban entry by Muslims to the U.S. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643265/LDS-Church-releases-statement-on-religious-freedom-as-Donald-Trumps-Muslim-controversy-swirls.html It would be nice if the Church were to release the statement again in response to the Executive Order. But even if the Brethren do not (I expect that they will not), they already made that statement once and I regard it as still standing.

  39. Coral Weaver says:

    I don’t agree with the opinion of this writer. There are scriptural accounts to defend either position and I believe that the US has a right to control immigration. It wasn’t until Ted Kennedy that this “open borders ” proposal took root and the US’s limited immigration became the flood it is now. Prior to that there were periods of time when no immigration was allowed in the US. Making the pause on immigration is not an anomaly. Sometimes you have to pause and rework the game plan or in this case make a reasonable game plan. Assimilation is difficult and a desire to be part of the US culture is essential. Thank you to the Church leaders for seeing both sides and not jumping to disparage an action that most of its citizens asked for in the last election.

  40. Coral Weaver, “most of its citizens asked for” this? I’m not sure where you get your news, but it appears you don’t know what the results (total number of votes for each candidate) of the election actually were. Not even considering the percentage of people who didn’t vote, you are mistaken in your claims.

  41. And even if your statistics were correct, that doesn’t make Trump’s action morally defensible. And the Church’s past response to Trump’s pre-election cry it would suggest they don’t think it is either. Which is why the silence hurts so much.

  42. Brian, Sam, Loursat, et al. – principle almost always matter more than position; especially when you’re not in a position to make any important change. There’s really not much I can do to alleviate any suffering with regard to the travel plans of refugees or greencard holders. The immigration process of the USA is an affront to man, scripture, and God.

    I’ve long held that position. I’m not worked in a frenzy over Trump. I see it as part and parcel of the same Obama big government approach, which is a continuation of the secret combinations whose existence many believe can’t exist as such a big lie, while we argue over the small lies left and right.

    The nation needs to come together with a coherent policy that acknowledges all sides of the issue. Being partisan while talking past each other won’t help. That’s the reason for pointing out Obama did the same thing with a different group a few years ago and also enabled the current action to be taken by Trump.

    Your protest comments won’t fix the long term issue, even if Trump was removed from office tomorrow.

  43. PL: “being partisan while talking past each other won’t help.” Not like what your doing, right? Move on already.

  44. anon nona says:

    https://m.mic.com/articles/166845/the-list-of-muslim-countries-trump-wants-to-ban-was-compiled-by-the-obama-administration#.dgDpiYoVe

    Where was the Liberal Progressive Socialist Fascist Communist outrage when Obama did the exact same thing? President Trump used Obama’s list and laws.

  45. “anon nona.” Your use of the phrase “exact same thing” is terrifying. And your lumping of political identities together sloppy and manic. And, again, your (errant) claims have nothing to do with this post.

  46. anon nona, did you even bother reading the article you linked to? It strikes me as substantively different to say people who have been to certain countries can’t get visa waivers and to say people with ties to certain countries can’t enter the United States.

    On a broader note, can I say how happy I am that your first response to immorality and unchristian behavior is to say, “But Obama did it too”? Because that tells me a lot about what you value.

  47. Steve Rotterdam says:

    The “Obama did the same thing” trope has been making the rounds all day, set in motion by Bannon and his Ministry of Propaganda with the express intention of getting picked up by the likes of some of the trolls hanging around here. One can use facts to distinguish the marked differences between the two actions, but facts seem to no longer matter as much as do alternative facts.

    The point of Sam’s post is not lost and will not be lost. The church leadership’s silence (punting the ball at best) on current events is unacceptable.

  48. Aussie Mormon says:

    This may be a stupid question but were LDS leaders actually asked to sign?

  49. Steve Rotterdam says:
  50. anon nona says:

    Many Muslim countries banned people from majority Muslim countries from entering their majority Muslum countries. Saudi Arabia and Nigeria are building… gasp……walls to keep fellow Muslims out. Where was / is your outrage about that. Where was / is the Islam and Muslum outrage about that.

    If the Left Liberal Progressive Socialist Fascist Communists did not have Double Standards, they would have no standards at all.

  51. I can’t stop thinking about Elder Kearon’s talk, and particularly the bit that’s now the headline for it at lds.org: “”This moment does not define the refugees, but our response will help define us.” Yep.

  52. Thank you.

    The POTUS always has the right to set refugee quotas and ban anyone she chooses. The ban on Iraqi refugees in 2011 was implemented after two people slipped through the vetting while the State Department reviewed its admitting procedures. Personally, I think a six-month ban was an overreaction but if the political climate about refugees had been the same in 2011 as it is today, the reaction to that story would have been quite different. No one cared about refugee resettlement in 2011 because Trump hadn’t yet politicized it.

    But Obama halting Iraqi refugee entries for six months is *nothing* like Trump banning all refugees for 4 months and completely halting Syrian refugee resettlement.

    As for the national origin ban, that’s explicitly illegal in US immigration law. I also believe it’s immoral.

  53. Just FYI: anybody who compares refugees to rapists will be instantly deleted from this thread, like the individual whose comment has now disappeared.

  54. Steve Rotterdam says:

    Unfortunately, it’s still showing up in my feed. Now there’s a guy who needs an adjustment to his tinfoil hat.

  55. This. And Kevin Barney’s comment too.

  56. mikerharris says:

    Hyporcrisy reeks. Many quote “Love one another” scriptures while spewing forth disdain for anyone that shows an iota of support for Trump. Such disdain only adds fuel to the divisiveness.

  57. I love lots of Trump supporters. They’re my family and friends.

    I have zero love for a political position that cheers when innocent people who need help are turned away from the prosperous borders of the US. And even though I’ll always love my family and friends who support Trump, my opinion of them will change forever if they support this executive order.

  58. The immigration process of the USA is an affront to man, scripture, and God.

    P.L. is right about this. Previous administrations didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory in this regard and the current one is distinguishing itself by setting new lows.

  59. I am fully in agreement with the Church’s statement and puzzled by criticism of it. You were expecting a 30-page white paper? A call to take up arms? The Church teaches correct principles, and this is quite clear and consistent with previous Church statements. Note that the statement is universal and timeless, that most members live outside the U.S., and that the U.S. is not the only country grappling with this issue.

    So let us use our influence in the public square and in charitable actions in whatever nation we may live to implement this guidance calmly and deliberately.

  60. The church did make a statement. Was the statement a day late? Probably. Did the statement lack specifics? Sure. Did the statement avoid bringing up the religious freedom aspect? Okay. But I like that the focus was on providing relief to those who are suffering, rather than defend itself from possible future discrimination.

    Some may feel that the delay was deafening, but the knee-jerk reaction screams volumes as well.

  61. The comments on the Newsroom’s Facebook page make it pretty clear that the church’s statement didn’t send a clear enough message.

  62. @Kevin Barney and others: Good news! It looks like you will now be able to “permit” the church to continue talking about religious freedom. Sure glad you’re here to fulfill this vital role.

  63. Tim
    The comments on the newsroom Facebook page make me so sad, on this and many other issues. The recent Harry Reid post included the most hateful comments ever. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t deleted. I too am still hoping for a stronger official response from the church.

  64. Hey guess what, the same people who thought Elder Anderson’s ex-post explanation of the church’s “get lost, gay people” policy was just so compelling also think this weak sauce statement is A-OK. Shocker.

    Note well that the statement wasn’t issued “in response to the recent executive order about which we have grave concerns,” nor to the “unfolding humanitarian crisis that church is watching closely.” No, we’re responding to media questions about whether we intend to issue a statement. To which the answer is, “Yeah, I guess. Here’s the very least we could possibly say. No can we go back to the real religious freedom crisis, which as we all know is about fighting for the rights of Mormons to continue to discriminate against gays?”

    Today, somewhere in America, Elder Von Keetch will speak to Mormons in a regional conference about “religious freedom.” Think about that.

  65. The church just launched a 7 part series on international religious freedom.

  66. Then it should know enough about the subject to recognize that the president is taking a dump on it. But apparently it doesn’t.

  67. Leo and others,

    I am fully in agreement with the Church’s statement and puzzled by criticism of it. You were expecting a 30-page white paper?

    Maybe a direct reference to what’s going on? A call to action? Signatures by some leading church officials? Or even something written in the active voice?

    This looks like a nonresponse to media inquiries, not to a moral crisis. And the thing is, the church knows how respond when it believes it’s talking about moral issues. See, for example, the statement it released the day after Obergefell. It includes a letter signed by the First Presidency, a bunch of background information, a letter to be read to the congregation, and explicit directions to talk to adults and to the youth.

    This? An anonymous paragraph that, to gst’s point, doesn’t even address the crisis that prompted the inquiries.

  68. christiankimball says:

    To anybody who takes this lightly, or business as usual, or ‘good enough’, let me say that in November 2015 I seriously questioned whether I was willing to be affiliated with the Mormon church any longer and I’m there again. I want something more like Pope Francis: ““It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help.”
    I’m one of the first to explain how the Church with a strong demand for Q15 consensus moves slowly. But it’s an explanation that does not sit well. Immigration and refugees is not a new subject, the Executive Order is surprising in a few details but not in general thrust, and the intent to provide plausible deniability to this being a Muslim ban is both transparent and acknowledged.

  69. You and all your liberal friends totally miss the point and misrepresent the point.
    The most populated Islamic countries in the world were not banned,
    The countries with no possible way of vetting applicants due to no government of laws, and coincidentally, most populated self declared radical Islamic terrorist were banned.
    Radical Islamic Terrorist have repeatedly declared their goal to destroy all western civilization
    Get a clue!
    Stop misrepresenting the facts!!!!

  70. Assuming that Gary is a member of the Mormon church, I’m going to leave his comment as Exhibit A for practical reasons that the church must respond, specifically and explicitly, to the Muslim Ban.

    It’s not the, or even a, principal reason, but it is one more reason.

  71. Hey, Gary: “Don’t raise your voice; improve your argument.” —Desmond Tutu

    The number of exclamation points at the end of your post does not make your unsubstantiated opinions any stronger. The point being made here is that innocent people have been driven from their homes, and they are not radical Islamic terrorists. They are families of regular people with nowhere to go. America defines itself as being a nation of immigrants—a people with freedom of religion and speech, a people with educational opportunities and community support. Closing our borders to the most vulnerable seeking asylum (to even those already in possession of green cards!) is a cowardly thing to do, not a strong thing to do.

  72. Christian Kimball wrote, “The Executive Order is surprising in a few details but not in general thrust.”

    This general point is really important to remember in evaluating where LDS leaders stand right now. It has been nearly three months since the election. Leaders have had that long to prepare for something like this executive order, yet their response thus far has been entirely inadequate.

    They could have made a proactive, forward-looking plan to deal with the Trump policies that every sentient person knew were coming. Instead they tried to play it safe by hoping, weirdly, that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir could calm the waters. That has not worked out very well.

    The crisis is here, and it’s going to continue. The tepid statement that the Church released on Saturday night sounds like the voice of someone trying to take cover and hope that the storm blows over. That’s not going to happen. Leadership is required.

    It’s not too late for the general authorities to stand up and be heard. Let’s pray that they realize that very, very soon. Every hour that passes without a clear statement of leadership is an hour lost.

  73. Thank you for this post, Sam. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m trying to figure out why there aren’t any of our church leaders’ names on that letter, but I’m not coming up with anything that holds water. I feel that pain with you.

  74. re: fn2

    It’s highly unusual but he IS still a candidate, because he filed papers for 2020 on inauguration day.
    This could be to begin collecting money and/or it could be exactly the reason you give, which is to prevent nonprofits from speaking against him lest they lose nonprofit status for “campaigning”

    https://politicalwire.com/2017/01/27/trump-already-filed-re-election/

  75. The Church teaches correct principles and then lets the members apply them as they see fit.
    If they told us what to do on every issue, the many members would fall in line choosing what was pointed out for them. It seems to me that if the wheat and the tares are to be separated, that they people need to decide on all their own what is right or wrong. Why they choose what they do also matters. Their hearts will prove them .

  76. It’s late. Sorry for the typos.

  77. choosetherightwayandbehappy says:

    You clearly don’t understand what it’s like to live surrounded by Muslims who want to kill you for supporting a five year old LDS girl who was gang raped by Muslim refugees. You wouldn’t be so eager to let them in if it were your daughter or granddaughter who was brutally gang raped. I can hear the screams of the Muslim woman next door when she is beat in the name of Allah. can you?