Keeping our covenants after this week

Ross is a bishop serving in the UK. He’s been our guest before and we’re pleased he’d share his thoughts on how to aid those in need.

Today I taught a combined Relief Society and Priesthood lesson in our ward. For the past three years the Europe Area Presidency has asked us to focus on three areas as part of their area plan: bringing a friend to church, becoming spiritually and temporally self reliant and finding an ancestor for temple ordinances. Basically the three-fold mission of the church with friendlier language.

I chose to focus on how we as individuals can become more spiritually self-reliant by taking care of the poor and needy. There are a few ways we can do this. We can pay a generous fast offering which is used to look after our own ward members, we can link up with local charities to look after poor and vulnerable members in our local areas and we can work with international charities that help with the poor and needy throu
ghout the world.

We are under covenant to do so. At baptism, we promised to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). Scripture doesn’t define who “those” are but I’m pretty sure it means all of the children of our Heavenly Parents.

We further learn that “I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.“ (Mosiah 4:26). Once again, the scripture doesn’t define who the “poor” are, so I’m going to assume it is anyone who has a need, irrespective of their background, culture, nationality, religion, sexuality, gender etc etc.

Last April, Elder Patrick Kearon, a General Authority and current Europe Area President, spoke about refugees in General Conference. Elder Kearon spoke of how “We must take a stand against intolerance and advocate respect and understanding across cultures and traditions.”
The words from that talk have resonated with me ever since, even almost a year later. At the time, it left me in tears. Unbelievably, after this talk was given, I had conversations with some church members that disagreed with Elder Kearon’s words. They said we shouldn’t aid refugees because some of them might be terrorists in disguise or that they might be economic migrants wanting to take advantage. Refusing to aid refugees for these reasons is the same as refusing to pay a fast offering because somebody might be taking advantage of the bishop. It’s basically finding an excuse not to live our covenants. It allows our prejudices to overrule the teachings of the Saviour.

As Latter-day Saints, if we really want to “defend the family”, we can’t sit idly by as families are split up over international borders due immigration policies. If we really believe in freedom of religion, we must be ready to defend the freedom of all religions.

The Twelfth Article of Faith cannot be used as an excuse to condone oppression. Governments can only be honoured and sustained as long as they have the moral authority to be worthy of those things.

Re-read the talk by Elder Kearon and then look at the news this week. You can’t be in agreement with the doctrine behind those remarks as well as the politics behind banning refugees from the richest country in the world without some serious mental gymnastics.

We are safe, we have refuge in the church. We know if we come up against difficult times we can be looked after by the loving embrace of our fellow saints and the blessings of church welfare programmes. We are Latter-day Saints, under covenant to look after those that need it. We can do some great things as individuals and amazing things when we work together to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees”.

Sometimes our own prejudices prevent us from keeping probably the most important covenant we have ever made. Now petty political actions are doing the same. We need to eradicate both.


  1. Ann Smith says:


  2. Amen.

  3. Amen, Ross. Thanks for sharing.

  4. “Families are split up over international borders due immigration policies.”

    In this case, it’s the state of war that’s ultimately responsible. The immigration policies just aren’t equipment or updated to handle the fallout from an entire nation devolving into war. If we took 10,000 people in tomorrow, it wouldn’t change the fact that 10,000 more people will be in line the next day. And the next. And so on.

    So while, I fully agree our immigration policies are terrible (in large part as a necessity of the social welfare state), no one is actually proposing a solution that will end the war. Sanctions won’t do it. Complaining to or about Russia (and/or Trump) won’t do it.

    If this were WW2, letting the lucky Jews who escape into your country is the right thing to do. But it wouldn’t have stopped the holocaust. Western civilization needs to regrow its backbone and recommit forces to the region to put an end to this situation. For every person who is lucky enough to escape and make it west, there are surely 50 more in need of our help over there. Local food aid and refugee tents only go so far against military force.

    President Obama and Merkel, etc. should have risen to the occasion. The nations who vowed “never again” don’t seem to be able to make the tough decisions to actually end the war. It would involve real sacrifice on our part. Greater love hath no man…

  5. Paul Brown says:

    some 61% of LDS voters in the US voted to elect our President, knowing in advance his policy towards immigrants in general and Muslims in particular. And confirmation bias will prevent them from questioning this recent decision, regardless of unfortunate consequences. Rather, we should expect a doubling down of support for Trump’s policies. As a people, we have delegated moral decision-making to our deeply flawed politicians, rather than retaining this difficult task for ourselves. The still small voice is drowned by bombast.

  6. Re: LDS support of Trump. I am not sure what the real level of support was in the election, one survey did indicate 61% LDS support in the U.S. generally but another indicated only 45% LDS support in Utah. I suspect that most LDS will take cues from the LDS leadership, which although in 2015 the leadership implicitly condemned banning Muslims when Trump proposed it during the campaign, the leadership has not expressed a view on the executive order other than to restate the hope that people address the issue of refugees. I do not expect the LDS people in general to criticize the executive order (or Trump) unless and until the leadership does, and for a variety of reasons do not see that happening (but I would love to be surprised).

  7. P.L., I suppose there is a chance that your comments are sincere. So if you’re not deliberately trolling, here’s something for you: You’re still doing it wrong. It’s fine to be concerned about systemic problems in government that have developed over many decades. However, when the urgent fact is the disastrous policies of the current administration, it is counterproductive for you just to complain about what others failed to do in the past. With the kinds of comments you have made, you function as an apologist for Trump, and you accomplish less than nothing to address the problems you claim to care about.

  8. Loursat, I could care less about supporting Trump in a political sense, other than the fact that he’s our President and I hope he makes wise choices. Didn’t vote for him, and I shouldn’t have to point that out.

    It’s not disastrous to halt immigration from a certain area of the world when you are concerned about that area. You can disagree. But Trump was elected fair and square by telling Pres. Obama that, “you’re doing it wrong” (in his view) when it comes to immigration from failed M.E. states. It’s quite a stretch to say this policy is “disastrous”.

    What’s disastrous is rampant immorality. That destroys generations. What’s disastrous is letting more and more people die “over there” while we think we’re being generous for “helping” people who get lucky enough to make it over here. It’s not clear to me while the most capable (the ones who actually make it to the west) are more deserving of our help than the ones who are unable to flee.

    The current administration is not responsible for what’s happened previously. The prior one is. The current President IS responsible for helping to solve the mess now. It’s entirely reasonable for him to step back and say, “We’re going to put a hold here, and formulate a new strategy”. Just letting dozens or even thousands trickle in will not make a difference if the bombing and killing continues over there.

    At this point, military intervention with boots in the ground with an actual coalition, combined with allies and, yes, even conscripted refugees who are willing and able to go back and help in some fashion or another, is exactly what this part of the world needs. Show the people we support them by wanting to help take back and fix their country (with them). Not give them handouts and a relocation permit.

    I assume they love their country and would love nothing more than the full force of a united west to help them rebuild it.

  9. P.L.
    That sounds a lot like the Iraq War. What would you suggest we do differently this time?

  10. So, P.L., you are an apologist for Trump. Thanks for clarifying.

  11. P.j. – wait, you mean the problem with not achieving peace in the middle east is we’ve not been trying hard enough? Why didn’t we think of that before? it worked so well in Vietnam and korea . . .

  12. Wade Nelson says:

    am amazed that the threat of radical Islam has been avoided in this whole discussion and that
    the countries identified in the E.O. were identified by the President’s predecessor.

  13. and that the countries identified in the E.O. were identified by the President’s predecessor.

    I cannot believe that people are still spewing this nonsense. If you don’t understand the difference between removing automatic issuance of visas and an outright travel ban, you’re an extraordinary ignoramus.

    I’ve noticed that a pretty substantial portion of Trumpkins have never had a passport, though.

  14. I haven’t read all these comments closely, an can’t say if the threat of radical Islam has come up or not. I can only say that I believe that such a threat does indeed exist, and has been boosted by this ill-advised action by our new president. In fact, there are reports today of Isis celebrating the chaos caused to so many undeserving people who have followed our government’s rules to obtain visas, green cards, and other requirements, and who have been blindsided by a new draconian order executed in an emergency fashion where there is no emergency, who are no longer able to use their legitimate travel documents. And radical Islamists crow with glee about new evidence of the evil, hate-filled way that America treats Muslims.

    So yeah, the threat of the jihadists is made worse by this.

  15. Jack of Hearts says:

    “Just letting dozens or even thousands trickle in will not make a difference if the bombing and killing continues over there.” Seriously? Assuming you’re Mormon, how have you not heard that story about the little boy and the starfish? “Just letting in dozens or even thousands” will make a staggering difference to them. Not being able to relocate everyone doesn’t mean we don’t relocate some; don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

  16. Not being able to relocate everyone doesn’t mean we don’t relocate some; don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

    This. Nothing prevents the wealthiest nation in the world from adopting a multi-pronged approach to reducing suffering in the world.

  17. P.L. makes some very valid points that I think you are losing in your visceral reaction to the Trump policies.

    I don’t read P.L.’s comments as necessarily supportive of the refugee ban, but as calling for a larger solution that in the long run will help more refugees.

    Agree that we need a multi-pronged approach, but the more humane approach in the long run is to be supportive of policies that solve the problems in places like Syria. What those policies are are clearly a huge challenge and debatable, but they can’t be ignored and just focusing on the US immigration policy.

  18. As though it were an either/or choice.

  19. Exactly! It is not an either/or choice. You can’t focus so much on the immigration policy that you lose sight of the fact that the larger solution is what is going in in the countries where the immigrants are coming from.

  20. A more humane approach? I’m all for it. I’ll be happy to give Trump and Bannon’s humane approach a fair hearing whenever there is the remotest sign that such a thing might exist. Until then, what we have is a bigoted religious ban that besmirches America’s standing around the world and inflicts needless suffering. Any discussion of the problems that we have to deal with going forward must be entirely honest about the actual Trump policies. Comments like P.L.’s don’t measure up.

  21. Actually, the LDS Church has been in favor of extreme vetting since the beginning. Baptismal interviews, tithing settlement, Temple recommend interviews, PPI’s, etc. To join the Church, you have to give up your old ways, and commit to the new ways. The Church has ”borders”, and it is hypocritical for Church members to think that nations should not have borders.

  22. Thank you. This is what we need today. If we put borders on our compassion, we deny our covenant to mourn with those who mourn.

  23. Sunday night 60 Minutes aired an excellent segment about the vetting process which takes about 2 years to clear someone.