Thursday, April 30, 2009

Was the Nation of Israel Created by an Act of God?

There exists a surprisingly large number of Christians, including a lot of Mormons, who think that the modern nation of Israel was created by an act of God. I happen to think that it was created by intrigue, something with which God does not involve himself. Even if Israel had been created by an act of God, it is safe to say that God would hide his face in shame at what Israel has become today. The Nation of Israel was conceived in war. It's my opinion that the world would be a much better place today had the nation of Israel never been born.

The Jews have been persecuted like no other people in the history of the world. Hitler didn't start the torturings and killings--he just perfected

Before the creation of modern Israel, Arabs and Jews had lived together in relative peace for many years. Since then, it seems, "peace" is no longer even an entry in the Middle Eastern lexicon.

and systematized them. It's not surprising, then, that many Jews would want to leave the West and find a new homeland. Their ironic mistake, however, was to create a quasi-exclusive nation-state for themselves, where they now look down on and treat their Arab neighbors in a manner similar to the way they once were frowned upon.

Zionism had its critical impetus in the 1890s:
Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist living in Austria, advocated reestablishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Early proponents of such a state said Zionism (the reuniting of Jewish people in Palestine) would match “a people without a land with a land without a people.”
Ironically, there had been already people living in Palestine, including many Jews, for many years.

The Balfour Declaration, issued in 1917, was a promise to the Jews

The Jews were more successful than the Arabs in establishing their nation because of ties to weapons dealers across the globe.

that they could have the area of Palestine for their new nation. Unfortunately, in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, the Arabs were promised essentially the same thing at about the same time.

The Jews were more successful than the Arabs in establishing their nation because of ties to weapons dealers across the globe. In preparation for their new nation, various leading Jews assembled a war machine. Golda Meir was dispatched to the United States to bring home the iron bacon. Ehud Avriel set up clandestine arms shipments to the Jews from various places in Europe. Haim Slavine coordinated the smuggling of war-surplus machine tools into Jewish hideouts in Palestine. Yehuda Arazi began the arms procurement process in 1936 by posing as a Nicaraguan ambassador who wished to purchase artillery pieces from Poland. (See the book "O Jerusalem", pages 388-390.)

At exactly 4 PM on May 14, 1948, Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion rose to declare the nation of Israel. He said:
In the land of Israel the Jewish people came into being. In this land was shaped their spiritual, religious, and national character. Exiled from the land of Israel, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion. Jews strove throughout the centuries to go back to the land of their fathers and regain their statehood.
Ben-Gurion then spoke of the
self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in their own sovereign state.

O Jerusalem, p. 382
Immediately thereafter, the new nation went to war. Arab neighbors, threatening violence

Israel was created as a result of political intrigue. The best thing that the United States could do now is to get out of that intrigue.

only if the new Jewish nation sprung up in their midst, attacked. Israel knew full well the stakes, so Israel was fully prepared. The Arab enemy was rebuffed in a matter of days.

The resulting mutual hatred has never subsided. Israel built a nation for itself precisely because Jews saw themselves as a special people. Before the creation of modern Israel, Arabs and Jews had lived together in relative peace for many years. Since then, it seems, "peace" is no longer even an entry in the lexicon of the Middle East.

The idea that Israel was created by God has turned dangerous and deadly. Just a year ago, Rabbi Mordechai Elayihu warned President George Bush that
The Jewish nation is eternal, and forever remembers those that have aided it throughout history, as well as those that have done it harm. Please let your name go down in history as a president who aided the Jewish nation, who worked alongside God and not against him.
In other words, if you don't do what we say, God and Israel will destroy you. Yikes! See what I mean?

Many Latter-day Saints today support the nation of Israel, because they think it had been prophesied. For example, the Book of Mormon says:
But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.

And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.

Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 10:7-8
Not only do Jews not yet believe in Christ, but the scripture doesn't say anything about a requirement for creating a nation-state in order for them to return to their lands. Many had already--successfully and peacefully--been doing so long before the claim that a nation was necessary. Modern Israel gives the appearance that only Jews are God's people, while God himself thinks that all human beings are his children.

Apparently unlike most Mormons, I tend to agree with deceased LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, who said:
It is our habit in the Church—a habit born of slovenly study and a limited perspective—to think of the restoration of the gospel as a past event and of the gathering of Israel as one that, though still in process, is in large measure accomplished. ...The greatness of the era of restoration is yet ahead. And as to Israel herself, her destiny is millennial; the glorious day when “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Dan. 7:27) is yet ahead.
The gathering that God would approve of is not exclusive, and it is peaceful. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that those who fear him will come together out of every nation because they want peace. It speaks of a "people", but not of a political subdivision called a "nation".
And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:69
The Nation of Israel was conceived in war.

Israel was created as a result of political intrigue. The best thing that the United States could do now is to get out of that intrigue. We should stop supplying weaponry to the Israeli Jews, and we should stop supplying weapons to their politically created enemies, the Arabs. Both sides have far more than enough "swords"--in the current form of tanks, planes, and missiles--that could be beaten into the "plowshares" of peace and social prosperity.

In the midst of economic turmoil, a halt to U.S. weapons dealing will be economically disastrous for America in the short term. But I can think of probable Armegeddon-like scenarios that make the life of a caveman look rather lush.




Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Get Torture Memos Off the Front Page: It's Spelled S-W-I-N-E F-L-U

I just did a check on about ten different national news sites. Not one of them any longer has anything about the torture memos on its front page. Rather, the top item on the list is now swine flu hysteria. Swine flu is affecting thousands, but still you'd think that the American news media could juggle more than one important ball at one time. If this weren't the same news media that thinks anything that, for example, Angelina Jolie does is news of the utmost importance, you'd also think that the media could put the swine flu problems in their proper perspective.

Have you heard very much in the news about the Obama's release of Bush torture memos lately? Did you know that, due to the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico City, the Mexican economy may be on the verge

Not even a swine flu outbreak should be seen as a warrant for a cover-up of the realities of Bush-era torture.

of collapse? Did you know that it was recently discovered that virus samples have may gone missing at Fort Detrick in Maryland? Did you know that the swine flu of 2009 is similar to the variant of flu that broke out in 1918, and that the vaccine at the time is thought by many to have significantly exacerbated the 1918 death count? I didn't think so.

Probably the only thing you know about swine flu right now is that WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!! What a convenient way to get the issue of torture off the front pages of all the newspapers in the country in one fell swoop.

Mexican Economy in the Tank. As if it weren't already bad enough economically for Mexico. So far, the swine flu outbreak in Mexico City is costing the Mexican economy at least $85 million per day. Bloomberg reports that
Mexico is more likely to draw on a $47 billion credit line from the International Monetary Fund after the deadly swine flu outbreak sparked the peso’s biggest tumble in six months...
The outbreak occurred at about the same time that Barack Obama visited Mexico, and one man is dead of flu-like symptoms after having visited with the U.S. President.
The outbreak coincided with President Barack Obama's trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at the anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archaeologist who died a week later from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn't say if Solis had swine flu or not.
Another Inside Job? The U.S. Federal government has admitted that the anthrax murders in 2001 were "an inside job". Could this be another? I'm not much for understanding "disease vectors", but some of those who claim to know about them are fairly suspicious about both the pin-pointedness and the fury with which swine flu has broken out in Mexico City. At any rate, over the past few months, it has come to the attention of officials at Fort Detrick, Maryland that virus samples have likely gone missing recently from their bio-weapons labs. Talk about weapons of mass destruction!! What are they doing with stuff like that anyway? I guess it's good they do, though, because the CDC has sent a sample of the brand new virus to a vaccine company for research, which it admittedly could have gotten from someone

Did you know that it was recently discovered that virus samples have may gone missing at Fort Detrick in Maryland? Did you know that the swine flu of 2009 is similar to the variant of flu that broke out in 1918, and that the vaccine at the time is thought by many to have significantly exacerbated the 1918 death count?

who has been infected with the latest flu variant.

1918 Revisited. In 1918, an influenza pandemic killed 50 million people across the world. A variant of H1N1, the killer strain of 1918, appears now to be responsible for the flu outbreak of 2009 in Mexico City. Several historians blame the vaccine of 1918 for exacerbating the 1918 outbreak. It's something to consider before we allow the government to herd the hysterical among us into rashly constructed vaccine parlors. But if you really want to...

It's Time...to...Panic!!! Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has said that this "never-before-seen virus" has "pandemic potential." Actually, as I pointed out, this virus has been seen before, so that should help in determining how best to combat it. Nonetheless, Fox News is reporting that
Health authorities are struggling to rein in the swine flu epidemic that has sparked a global crisis since discovery of the never-before-seen strain just last week...
and also that
The federal government on Tuesday began preparing Americans to expect the swine flu outbreak to lead to deaths...
Meanwhile, after ten cases of the mis-labeled "swine flu" in California, a state of emergency has been declared.

Fox also warns that a vaccine is months away from being a reality.

All of this may have various grains of truth, but I still wonder: wouldn't it be better to accentuate the greater reality that the Mexican economy is on the brink of disaster? Wouldn't it be better for more media outlets to be researching the epicenter of the outbreak and whether the missing virus samples from Fort Detrick have anything to do with it? Wouldn't it be more productive to put the H1N1 variant of the flu into its proper historical perspective?

Regardless of any of this, life must go on. Therefore, not even a swine flu outbreak should be seen as a warrant for a cover-up of the realities of Bush-era torture.




Friday, April 24, 2009

The Inhumanity of Bob Lonsberry: Waterboarding, Concentration Camps, and the the Bataan Death March

KNRS 570 radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry advocated waterboarding and other forms of torture during his show on April 21, 2009. More grotesquely, he was beaming with pride about his advocacy campaign. It's difficult to imagine then, that, by the same rationale, had Lonsberry been a German at the time of Hitler, or a Japanese during the Bataan Death March, that he would not have advocated torture of Jews in the concentration camps or the bayoneting and shooting of American soldiers on the Bataan trail.

Torture, Torture, Everywhere! Nearly 80,000 American soldiers were captured by the Japanese in the

To contemplate a discussion about whether or not torture is legal or whether it even works, it is first required to come to the conclusion that 'I am a child of God, but my adversary is a monkey'.

Phillipines in 1942 and forced to march with no food and very little water for six days. If a man stumbled, if he didn't respond quickly to a command, or if he tried to get water from a bug-infested mud puddle to slake his thirst, he was either bayoneted through the abdomen or shot and left to die. The Japanese overlords had their reasoning. These westerners were to them obviously subhuman, and to make matters worse, they had committed the unpardonable sin of surrendering to their enemies. Japanese soldiers killed 12,000 Americans on the Bataan march, and to them it was perfectly rational.

At a minimum, six million Jews were killed in Europe by the Nazi Wehrmacht. Millions upon millions of Jews toiled in torturous conditions, under which many of their bodies simply gave out. For this--and less--they were sent to the gas chambers and the furnaces. For ages, Jews had been looked on as the cause for a plethora of ills. On the shoulders of this dehumanization of Jews, Adolf Hitler and his coterie stirred, with very little effort, the bulk of the German masses to a frenzied call for the elimination of the Jewish race. It had become, to them, perfectly logical. Jews were swine. Jews were not human.

April 21st on his radio program, Bob Lonsberry dehumanized all dark-skinned Middle Easterners (segment begins at 1:49:20 into the show) in one fell swoop. He crooned:
Here is my waterboarding memo. If you don't want to get waterboarded, don't kill Americans. And if waterboarding a million foreigners saves one American life, then it's worth it. That's my attitude. Sorry to be a jerk about this, but...I just had a moment of clarity. It's good to keep Americans alive. It's really, really good. So if you and your goat-herding pals out there in some third-world wasteland, having your little opium induced fantasies say hey why don't we go kill some Americans, you have just crossed over into a world of hurt...
Getting Back to the Original Problem. It's instructive in such moments of insanity to ask one's self: how did we get to this point? Specifically, how did America get to the point that now we are even having a debate on whether torture is efficacious. Here's how. America attacks Iraq because it supposedly has weapons of mass destruction.

Which came about because we supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980's.

Which came about because Iranian students captured dozens of

"If you and your goat-herding pals out there in some third-world wasteland, having your little opium induced fantasies say hey why don't we go kill some Americans, you have just crossed over into a world of hurt."

--Bob Lonsberry

American embassy personnel and held them hostage for 444 days.

Which came about because the United States overthrew the freely-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953 and restored the reviled and corrupt Shah Reza Pahlavi to the throne.

If we don't understand history, it's easy to make rationalizations. Rationalizations are nearly always accompanied by the purposeful dehumanization of one's adversary. In doing so on his radio show two days ago, Bob Lonsberry made this Mormon embarassed that we share the same religion.

Lonsberry said further:
You notice that the people who are lecturing us on Americas values today...are the same ones who last week told us that we have to let gay people marry? It just seems a little odd to me, being lectured on values by the pro-abortion party.
In an effort to cement his rationalization, Lonsberry mischaracterizes hundreds of

If we don't understand history, it's easy to make rationalizations. Rationalizations are nearly always accompanied by the unfortunate but purposeful dehumanization of one's adversary.

thousands of Americans who oppose gay marriage, abortion-on-demand, and torture.

The right path is not hard to discern. George Washington--of horse and buggy days--warned of entangling alliances with other nations. He said:
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. [But] it is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
This, simply, is how we could have avoided at all the discussion about whether or not torture is legal or whether it even works, for which it is first required to come to the conclusion that 'I am a child of God, but they are a monkey'.

People such as Japanese bayoneters, German concentration camp "managers", and Bob Lonsberry prefer to ignore history, though, because it's much more soul-stirring to go on in rationalizing platitudes about the dignity of terrorizing monkeys.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama In League with Bush, Gives Pass on Torture, Further Endangers America

I applaud the Obama Administration's recent release of torture memos that were the primary legacy of the Bush administration. The release of the memos rings hollow, however, since Obama indicated that no further investigation would occur into the matter, let alone any punishment being meted out for this embarrassment to America. People around the world are outraged. I hope you're one of them.

America's worst nemesis is its lack of integrity vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Obama's recent determination

Obama has made some good moves. Opening relations with Cuba is one of them. But in the things that really matter--that involve the restoration of America's integrity--he might as well be Dick Cheney.

that the tortured interpretations and implementations of Bush era torture will not be investigated dilutes our integrity even further. The rest of the world was expecting a lot to change when Obama took office. They're starting to see that not much has.

Meanwhile, DemocracyNow reported over the weekend that torture at Guantanamo has actually become worse since Obama took office (Skip to 2:15 in the video segment).

What's the Real Danger to America? Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and Michael Mukasey, former attorney general, wrote in the Wall Street journal that Obama's release of four "torture memos" written in 2002 and 2005 has made made America less safe. Bullfeathers.
They said the release "assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the US government could do to extract information from them, and can supplement their training accordingly and thus diminish the effectiveness of these techniques"
What made America less safe was not the release of the memos, but

This embarrassment to America may not be the equal of what George W. Bush committed, but Obama's decree is a gigantic embarrassment just the same. Let's hope that Congress doesn't regard him as a king, as they did the last guy.

rather (1) continuing American imperialism on foreign soil, (2) continued American torture at Guantanamo, Bagram Air Base, and elsewhere, and (3) now a refusal to investigate previous torture. Hayden and Mukasey must surely understand where the real danger lies.

United Nations Expresses Outrage.The United Nations has declared illegal Obama's excemption of the CIA and Bush administration officials from investigation and potential prosecution.
The UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, says the US is bound under the UN Convention against Torture to prosecute those who engage in it.

"The United States, like all other states that are part of the UN convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court," Mr Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard.
I don't happen to much appreciate the existence of the United Nations, but in this case I must admit that the UN is right.

The World Expresses Outrage.The Scotsman writes
[Obama's] further decision to rule out any prosecution of the CIA operatives involved in applying the techniques has brought a flood of criticism from liberal commentators who fear the President, despite his own objections to the methods, has now become complicit in their application.
The Belfast Telegraph states
If Mr Obama had hoped to draw a line under the shame of how the CIA treated terror suspects at secret overseas prisons, he has failed.
Middle Eastern human rights organizations are equally shocked, citing the danger that will likely result from Obama's announcement.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights in Cairo said the decision would encourage other nations to let abuses pass.

"Obama told us he will hold to account the people who committed a crime or a human rights violation," the group said. "So this is a wrong signal to the perpetrators of human rights, especially Third World countries."
The United States Expresses (Some) Outrage. It's good that dismay is being expressed from at least some quarters of the United States. From the Scotsman article:
David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Centre, and the author of Justice At War: The Men and Ideas That Shaped America's 'War on Terror', said: "The four legal memos released by the Obama administration on Thursday confirm in excruciating detail that the Bush administration employed twisted and macabre legal reasoning to authorise the unspeakable – the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of human beings.

"Obama's refusal to hold accountable those responsible for the wrongs so evident from the memos is unacceptable. A child would recognise these tactics as cruel and inhumane."
Mike Farrell wrote scathingly in The Huffington Post that Germans who "were just following orders" during World War II were put to death for far less heinous crimes.
How we cheapen ourselves today. "Enhanced interrogation," "coercive techniques" and "harsh treatment" pretend torture is not torture. By what moral or ethical standard does a rational person determine that smashing a shackled human being's head into a wall is legal, let alone acceptable? It has been clear from before Nuremberg that the duty of the individual is to refuse to commit an illegal act, even if so ordered by one's commanding authority.
Farrell continues:
Yet, "... nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past," says our president, missing the point entirely. As a constitutional scholar, he above all should understand that impunity for torturers gnaws at the wound of injustice and denies healing.
This embarrassment to America may not be the equal of what George W. Bush committed, but Obama's decree is a gigantic embarrassment just the same. Let's hope that Congress doesn't regard him as a king, but rather actually does something to fix the problem Obama created.

Obama has made some good moves. Opening relations with Cuba is one of them. But in the things that really matter--that involve the restoration of America's integrity--he might as well be Dick Cheney. Giving a pass to the Bush administration on torture will haunt us for years to come.




Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why is LDS Church Growth So Flat? Because We're No Longer Unique.

In 1996, the number of LDS converts was just over 321,000. In 2004, 80,000 fewer people were converted to the Church. I was surprised to learn that in 2008, the numbers were only about 265,000--still a far cry from the trends of previous decades. What gives? There are many reasons. But I have a theory that most people probably haven't thought about. It's called "we don't live our religion very well anymore."

Various estimates in the last few decades projected that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would have between 75 million and 175 million members by the year 2030. At previous growth rates,

That's our biggest problem. It's not that it's hard to be a Mormon. It's not that people are spreading lies about our doctrine. It's that we don't have anything unique to offer. Mormons have become just like everyone else, and in doing so, we have become our own worst enemy.

this goal would still seem probable. At the current rate of about 1 million new members every three years, including baptisms of 8-year children from already-LDS families, the possibility of reaching 30 million members of the Church by 2030 seems quaint.

Although it could still happen.

Sociologist Rodney Stark
made some bold predictions about the LDS Church in 1984:
Stark was astonished to discover that the LDS Church's growth rate from 1940 through 1980 was 53 percent. He estimated that if it continued to grow at a more modest 30 percent, there would be 60 million Mormons by the year 2080; if 50 percent, the figure would explode to 265 million.

He famously predicted that the LDS Church "will soon achieve a worldwide following comparable to that of Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and the other dominant world faiths."

Latter-day Saints were on the threshold of becoming "the first major faith to appear on earth since the Prophet Mohammed rode out of the desert," Stark wrote.
Oops! What gives?

Sure, we get persecuted. Joseph Sitati, the first black African called as an LDS general authority, said he saw a particular persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in his home country of Kenya. Interestingly, the disparagements of the LDS Church in Kenya were never home grown.
Most of the current anti-Mormon attacks are imported from America, Sitati said. "Some people who are trying to protect their own faith spread bad stories about Mormonism. There is no indigenous hostility to the church."
Additionally, I suspect the requirements for membership in the LDS Church are a bit (a lot?) more stringent than are those of other faiths. In a world of increasing wickedness, fewer and fewer people would be attracted to the Church. On the other hand, in a world of increasing wickedness, more and more people who are looking for something better should be attracted to the Church.

Why aren't they? Because Mormons don't live their religion very well anymore. Brigham Young warned members of the Church that if we don't live our religion,

If we simply were to live the forgotten half of our religion, which is to help our brothers and sisters to become self-sufficient--instead of trying to get and stay ahead of them--our Church growth problem would take care of itself.

our religion will fail. It might just be doing that.

Beyond preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, the religion of the Latter-Day Saints is to help each other succeed. But I dare say most Mormons are too busy helping themselves to succeed to notice how much they could help the many that are in far more dire temporal circumstances than themselves.

Robert D. Hales's discussion in April 2009 LDS General Conference of the importance of being a provident provider hit me right between the eyes. What is a provident provider? It's someone who is not consumed with their own life, but instead someone who can look outward to see how they can be of help to others. Based on this definition, I'm at best a semi-provident provider.

A provident provider has little or no debt. President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley admonished Church members 11 years ago in General Conference to get out of debt. How many members of the Church heeded his advice? Not many. The housing boom and bust has been just as great in Utah as in any other area of the globe. Foreclosures and bankruptcies continue apace.

Brigham Young warned that
the Latter-day Saints will never accomplish their mission until...inequality shall cease in the earth.
The whole point of temporal life is to help ensure that everyone (not just ourselves) has what is sufficient for their needs. Yet most Americans, including most American Mormons, believe in the opposite--cutthroat capitalism. In our perverted just-like-everyone-else Mormon way of thinking, we assume that the free market is embodied by boards of directors who give themselves and their CEOs multi-million-dollar bonuses while firing thousands of employees in order to make their companies profitable. The free market is so-o-o not that.

Elder Sitati talked of the real problems facing the LDS Church in Kenya:
The bigger problems are unemployment, poverty and illiteracy, which make it tough to be completely involved in Mormonism's all-volunteer organization.

"Because of poverty, most Africans are highly interdependent, they tend to share the little they have," Sitati said. "That obliges them to adopt social norms that might not fit with church practices."
Sitati's statement drips with irony. If we simply

In our perverted Mormon way of thinking, we assume that the free market is embodied by boards of directors who give themselves and their CEOs multi-million-dollar bonuses while firing thousands of employees in order to make their companies profitable.

were to live the forgotten half of our religion, which is to help our brothers and sisters to become self-sufficient instead of trying to get and stay ahead of them, our Church growth problem would take care of itself. Everything is spiritual to God, including providing for the temporal part of our natures. Helping the poor is every bit as spiritual (and doctrinal) as are the Plan of Salvation, baptism, and the sacrament.

Somehow we have forgotten that. We're fabulous at showing up with our helping hands for the cameras when a hurricane or a tsunami causes a catastrophe. This is important, too, but how much do we actually help the rest of those in need when no one is looking? Are we even in a position to be able to help them, our are we still squeaking by paying off our new mansion, a motor home, and an armada of four wheelers?

Zion is made up of the pure in heart who support each

If enough of us can get and keep ourselves out of debt long enough to begin looking outward to those who need our help, then perhaps we can yet instill in the rest of the world an understanding that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has something unique to offer.

other so well that the poor eventually cease to exist. By contrast, in Utah, the Mecca of Mormonism, the irony is that paltry donations to Scouting for Food drives barely keep the public pantry shelves from being empty.

That's our biggest problem. It's not that it's hard to be a Mormon. It's not that people are spreading lies about our doctrine. It's simply that we don't seem to have anything unique to offer anymore. Mormons have become just like everyone else, and in doing so, we have become our own worst enemy.

While so many in the world ascribe the deepening divide between rich and poor as a natural consequence of the free market, Mormons--of all people--should decry such lies from the rooftops. If enough of us can get and keep ourselves out of debt long enough to begin looking outward to those who need our help, then perhaps we can yet instill in the rest of the world an understanding that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has something unique to offer.

If not, we may not have even 265,000 converts in the year 2030.





Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Of Pirates and Financiers : Whom Should We Hate Worse?

Why are pirates attacking ships off the coast of Somalia? Because it's very profitable! You'll be surprised just how profitable. This got me wondering...is profitability the same reason that most bankers want to be bankers?

In the past year, pirates in the area of the Gulf of Aden have accrued "tens of millions of dollars" in ransoms. I'd say that's a pretty profitable business.

Yet still the owners of the ships that are being attacked balk at carrying weapons to defend themselves.

Wouldn't that make you angry if you found out that pirates were stealing tens of millions of dollars from you?

They are.

How about if they were stealing thousands of times that much?

They are.

It's ironic that the Somali pirates are receiving hours and hours of news time for stealing from cargo ships during the same period of time in which global economic pirates are stealing far more from you.

Global financiers are gaming you and me, and they're not even asking for a ransom. They don't need to, because it's quasi-legal. And because you let them. You're a bigger pansy than than the cargo ship lines who refuse to defend themselves.

The Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs, George Soros, the International Monetary Fund, and all of their pirate friends are stealing money right out from under your nose and all you care about is getting a stimulus package.

You're worrying about the wrong pirates, dude.




Saturday, April 11, 2009

Obama on Wiretapping, Rendition, and War: It's Time to Start Admitting that Ron Paul Was the Better Choice

I've already documented how Obama is still using mercenaries, just like the Bush administration. I documented how Obama hires the same Establishment schmucks for his administration and how he's equally in bed with Wall Street as Bush was.

But it gets worse. I told you it would.
Now, with the Obama administration's stances on wiretapping, war in the Middle East, and secret and indefinite detention of enemy combatants, there's virtually no difference in Obama's stance from Bush's.

If you are surprised, you haven't been reading Simple Utah Mormon Politics. The election is over, but it's still not too late to remind you that if Ron Paul were president, these same problems would be well on the way to not being problems anymore. With Obama, they're just about as big as they ever were.

One thing that I appreciate about progressives: they are much better than

I just didn't think Olbermann could get fit to be tied over something that involved a Democrat president. I now have a great deal more respect for Olbermann, because he can.

most conservatives about blaming their own when their own go against their principles. Here's some of the things they've been talking about.

The Father of Guantanamo. President Obama has ordered the eventual closure of the torture cells at Guantanamo, but, says Marie Cocco of TruthDig, what about Bagram?
[The president] must immediately reverse his own inexplicable support for the Bush administration’s policy of indefinite and secret detention as the fate for more than 600 detainees now held at the U.S. air base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Bagram is the father of Guantanamo.

When U.S. operatives under the Bush administration’s “war on terror” seized people around the globe on suspicion of terrorist ties, the prisoners often were sent first to Bagram, where, according to accounts by former detainees and human rights groups, many were brutalized before being shackled and shipped to what would become the notorious prison for alleged terrorists at the U.S. naval facility in Cuba.
Ron Paul has been unalterably opposed to renditions and torture. Obama? Well...only so-so.

Wiretapping. Part of the reason I like to watch Keith Olbermann is because he is so passionately entertaining when he gets fit to be tied. I just didn't think he could get fit to be tied over something that involved a Democrat president. I now have a great deal more respect for Olbermann, because he can. On April 7, Olbermann said
During his run for the presidency, Barack Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, argued strongly against the Bush administration‘s use of executive authority including its self-justification, its rationalization of the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

...That was then, this is now. President Obama‘s Justice Department now is not just defending Bush officials from lawsuits surrounding National Security Agency domestic spying, but seeking to expand the government‘s authority by making it immune from any legal challenge regarding wiretapping—ever. Welcome to change you cannot believe in or sue over.
Ron Paul has always been against the FISA encroachments that Obama now supports. Yes, "you can believe in" the fact that Barack Obama will change his mind to match that of his Establishment puppeteers.

Special War Appropriations.
Barack Obama and a host of other Democrats were white-not mad at George Bush for requesting special appropriations for prosecuting the war on terror. Now President Obama has made his first such crow-eating request. Marketplace says:
The Obama administration sent an $83 billion war supplemental to Congress, going back on his word to only fund wars through the normal budgeting process.

...Obama promised that he would fund the war in the normal budget process, and the Democrats made the same promise back in 2007 when they took over Congress. They couldn't keep it, and the White House is now saying this is absolutely the last time they'll do this...
Ron Paul noticed that the neo-cons, who started the war, are in gleeful support of Obama's failure to deliver on the change we thought we could believe in. Congressman Paul said
Some may notice that the neo-conservatives who masterminded the policy of global interventions are not complaining about the level of military and foreign spending. This is because rather than drawing down our costly interventions, Obama is largely staying the course on these issues. In fact, this week a group of leading neoconservatives met to discuss how best to support the President on foreign policy! I am disappointed and concerned that, in spite of a change in leadership, we will remain the policeman of the world...
Columnist Paul Craig Roberts
is another former Bush critic who is getting a sense of déjà vu from the new Obama administration. "Now we have the Democrats, and the assault on civil liberty continues"
Who do you wish was President now?




Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Obama's Blackwater? The More U.S. Foreign Policy "Change"s The More it Stays the Same

How I wish that mercenary armies had been just an aberration of the Bush/Cheney Administration. It would have convinced me that Barack Obama had at least some sort of significant change that I could believe in. But instead of my predictions being wrong, they are now haunting me.

When I served in Iraq in 2005-06, I took a fairly hefty pay cut from my civilian job. Not a big deal, I thought, because I expected it. What I didn't know was that I could do the same military-like stuff for a civilian firm and get paid more (a lot more). While in Iraq, I met some guys from one of the "mercenary groups" that were providing security for Operation Iraqi Freedom. I don't know for sure if they

The places may have changed, and even the company name, but the activities of the corporate soldiers of fortune continue apace under the Obama administration.

were Blackwater employees, but they were making almost three times as much money as I was making. Even the private firefighters on our base (in their air-conditioned trailers with satellite TV) were making about twice as much as me (we had exactly one out-of-control fire during the time I was there, and it was at the base garbage dump).

Barack Obama got to know Blackwater in 2008. Instead of American troops protecting him while he was visiting Afghanistan during his campaign tour, Blackwater employees were assigned the task.

It's fairly unknown just how many of the Blackwater types are working in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It is very unknown how much money our government is paying these guys. I hope that the budget figures being tossed about in Washington regarding the war on terror include how

I just hoped that Barack Obama would be different.

much these private armies are getting paid, but I fear that the real numbers are off the books.

Jeremy Scahill's recent book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, describes a few lame-brained, and a plethora of sickening, activities perpetrated by Blackwater in Iraq. I had thought, because news outlets told me so, that Blackwater was simply a tool of the Bush/Cheney regime.

I thought wrong.

The places may have changed, and even the company name, but the activities of the corporate soldiers of fortune continue apace under the Obama administration. Scahill reports on alternet that:
...it appears that the Obama administration has decided on its hired guns of choice: Triple Canopy, a Chicago company now based in Virginia. It may not have Blackwater's thuggish reputation, but Triple Canopy has its own bloody history in Iraq and a record of hiring mercenaries from countries with atrocious human rights records. What's more, Obama is not just using the company in Iraq, but also as a U.S.-government funded private security force in Israel/Palestine, operating out of Jerusalem.

Beginning May 7th, Triple Canopy will officially take over Xe/Blackwater's mega-contract with the U.S. State Department for guarding occupation officials in Iraq.
Scahill visited with Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow! earlier this month.
Besides the unconscionable amount of money the mercenaries and their outfits are pulling down, guns for hire allow the Executive Branch to get around the inconvenient fact that most Americans wonder what in the world we're doing sending our service men and women over there.

Contrary to the wishes of 75% of Afghanis, who want the United States to take their deadly Nerf guns and go home, Barack Obama is increasing the stakes. In a similar manner to the many U.S. service men and women who are being re-routed from Iraq to Afghanistan, these "civilian contractors" are tagging along.

The Iraqi government, after the latest Blackwater vulgarities

Contrary to the wishes of 75% of Afghanis, who want the United States to take their deadly Nerf guns and go home, Barack Obama is increasing the stakes.

committed in their country, demanded that Blackwater exit stage left as personae non grata. They sort of are, but not really. Obama recently signed a $70 million contract with "Xe" (Blackwater's newly spun name) that expects them to be in Iraq for at least another couple of years.

Blackw...er...Xe will not have as big a footprint in Iraq as before, but that's easily overcome. Barack Obama's private army of choice is a company called Triple Canopy. Not surprisingly, the economic downturn at Xe is having little effect on its employees. That's because they are becoming Triple Canopy employees in hordes, with a fresh license to maim and kill in a different Middle Eastern country.

Is this what America has become? Is this the fascist military state that you want your country to be? Largely with the help of corporate guns for hire, American exports killing instead of liberty.

I just hoped that Barack Obama would be different.




Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Discussion on the "Twelve Apostates": How Should LDS Leaders React to Newspaper Mistake?

If I had been the one to make the mistake, I would have been mortified. But if I'd been a member of the LDS First Presidency or the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, I'd have laughed about it. I haven't heard anything about their reactions yet, but I hope I'm right.

It's a joke that should probably only be told once or twice, because it would become disrespectful over time, but man this one was funny. Yesterday, the BYU Daily Universe published a front page picture with a caption referring to the "Twelve Apostates" (click here, then scroll down for article updates) instead of the "Twelve Apostles". As soon as the error was discovered, all newspapers (several thousand) were removed from the racks on BYU campus. A reprint of the edition appeared late yesterday afternoon.

I had an interesting conversation with a few of my BYU co-workers today. I was surprised by their reactions to the mistake.

First of all, this isn't the first time that mistake has happened, although the first known occurrence of "twelve apostates" occurred about thirty years ago. While playing around with the labels that would appear on KBYU television during a fireside broadcast, a label inadvertently made its way over the airwaves. According to those who were there, there was no joy in Mudville that day. (But it may have been due to the specific apostle that it happened to.)

I hoped, however, that everyone can find humor in this mistake, whether it was honest (a mistaken spell-check word-replacement suggestion) or similar to the KBYU caper of thirty years ago. Apparently, some can't.

One of my interlocutors in today's conversation said something along the lines of "The Brethren would not have been pleased at that mistake." Another colleague involved in the conversation opined that privately the Church leaders probably found the mistake funny, but that in public they couldn't afford to show it because of the dignity of the apostolic office.

Different personalities have different reactions to such mistakes. What I found interesting in my conversation today was that it seemed that the younger the person in the conversation was, the more likely they were to think that the Church leadership should publicly find humor in it.

What do you think? What would you do if you were a "brethren"? What would Jesus do?

I, for one, think the dignity of the office is still intact. I also don't think Jesus was a stiff; I imagine him being able to poke fun at himself, and I hope the Church leadership can, too.

If I were a member of the Quorum of Twelve apostles, I would write a nice letter to the BYU Daily Universe staff explaining how humorous I found it and that all is forgiven. And over the next few days and weeks, I would get a lot of missionary mileage out of referring to myself as one of the Twelve Apostates.

But if I'm wrong, I promise not to lose my testimony.




Sunday, April 05, 2009

Is It Bad that LDS Quorum of Twelve is Still a Bunch of White Guys?

I predicted that someone from South or Central America--a hispanic--would be the next member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Instead, it was Neil L. Andersen, another caucasian Brigham Young University graduate. Some people have intimated that Andersen was a poor choice, because it perpetuated the image of an exclusive white-man's club. What do you think?

Update 4/6/09 - Twelve "Apostates"? Was it just a faux pas at BYU's Daily Universe?

Update 2: Yes it was. ;-)

During President Thomas S. Monson's inaugural press conference following the death of Gordon B. Hinckley in early 2008,

Does it matter that 12 white guys, 11 of which graduated from Utah universities, comprise the Quorum of the Twelve? It shouldn't.

a member of the press asked what the leadership would do to change the perspective that Church leaders are just a bunch of white men from Utah.

The choice of Neil Anderson to the Quorum of Twelve did nothing to change the suspicions of people who are suspicious of such things. I'll admit that this same thought crossed my mind yesterday. I'll specifically admit that I thought "Another white guy?" The thought has probably crossed several people's minds, in and out of the church.

Several commenters to the Salt Lake Tribune article announcing Andersen's call were very underwhelmed at the announcement. One said

What a surprise! They chose an old white guy of northen European descent! Talk about daring!
Another opined

Another whitie gets inducted into the Mormon hierarchy. Ho-hum, yawn, booooriiing. The Mormons continue to keep a very white face in what it claims to be a worldwide organization. Don't know how that is supposed to appeal to anyone outside those parameters...
Despite its caucasian-ness, the quorum is developing something of an international flair. Andersen, specifically, has spent ten of the last twenty years outside of the United States. Of a recent experience in Colombia, Andersen made what I think is a very important observation:

It was amazing to see the church totally without North Americans there.
In one week there on Church businsess, Andersen encountered exactly one North American. Which is a strong indication that in most places in the Church white men no longer (need to) dominate Church leadership.

Race and skin color seem to still make a huge difference in today's world. The call of Neil L. Andersen as the newest Apostle is a subtle reminder that these things shouldn't matter.

That is a healthy development from the perspective that the Church, as prophesied, is indeed filling the whole earth.

Does it matter that 12 white guys, 11 of which graduated from Utah universities, comprise the Quorum of the Twelve? It shouldn't. Besides, it's only a matter of time before an increasingly cosmopolitan Church becomes so represented in its church leadership. The Quorums of Seventy are beginning to look a lot more racially, nationally, and culturally diverse already.

A few years back, total Church membership outside the United States eclipsed that inside the U.S., indicating that the LDS diversity juggernaut, if it may be called such, will not be stopped. But could it perhaps be for now that, through the appointment of Elder Andersen, Jesus Christ is trying through revelation to get people to overcome the hangup of thinking that race and skin color matter?

I think, just like the announcement in 1978 allowing worthy black males to hold the priesthood, that the calling of non-white males to the Quorum of the Twelve will occur on the Lord's time table.

President Boyd K Packer reminded the men of the Church in last night's General Conference priesthood session:

Do not fall into the trap of feeling inferior about...your height or your weight...or your skin color or your race. You are a son of God. You lived in a pre-mortal existence as an individual spirit child of Heavenly Parents.
Race and skin color seem to still make a huge difference in today's world. The call of Neil L. Andersen as the newest Apostle is a subtle reminder that they shouldn't.

Someone reminded us yesterday in General Conference that the LDS Church, although it's like most other churches in proclaiming that it is the only true church, is one of the very few that does NOT proclaim that everyone else is going to hell.

Skin color quotas don't matter. Divine ancestry does. And we all have a claim to divine ancestry.

Update 4/6/2009: Someone from the BYU Daily Universe made either a huge faux pas or was trying to be very sneaky. Here's what the Daily Universe said in apology:
In printed copies of Monday's Daily Universe, due to a spelling error in a photo caption, the word "apostles" was replaced with a different word. The Daily Universe apologizes to the Quorum of the Twelve and our readers for the error.

Read the caption carefully on the picture below.



Update 2: In the last few minutes, the Daily Universe has come out with this (much better) explanation. Which almost confirms my suspicion (I suspected aloud to co-workers that someone errantly accepted the first word that came up on the editing software’s word-completion list). Here's an excerpt from the explanation:
“Our copy editor in charge of the front page, who was under deadline pressure, was using spell check on her page and had misspelled the word apostle...One of the first options that came up on InDesign’s spell check suggestions was the word apostate. Unfortunately that’s the one she clicked on..."
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LDS Church's First Black African General Authority






Friday, April 03, 2009

Is the LDS Church Succumbing to Global Warming Hysteria?

On March 28th, the LDS Church participated in Earth Hour by dimming the lights of the Salt Lake temple for one hour. On April 2nd, church leaders met with globalist global warming crusader Al Gore. Rumor has it that the LDS church leadership will make a statement on global warming in General Conference this weekend. Do you think that LDS Church leaders have lost their marbles?

The Earth Hour web site says
YOUR LIGHT SWITCH IS YOUR VOTE

This year, Earth Hour was transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008...50 million people switch[ed] off their lights.

In 2009, Earth Hour was taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people casting their vote for Earth.

[We urge you] to VOTE EARTH [by dimming your lights] and reach the target of 1 billion votes by the time world leaders meet in Copenhagen for the Global Climate Change Conference in December 2009.
On Saturday, March 28, for the first time, the lights of the Salt Lake LDS temple were dimmed during earth hour. Does that shake your Mormon faith?

Last night, former United States vice president Al Gore met with leaders of the LDS Church
[giving] a 30-minute presentation and expressed his concerns about CO2 emissions, which was followed by several minutes of questions and answers
Does this mean that the LDS Church is now on the man-made global

Will the Church make a statement in General Conference about global warming? I'm predicting no. But I'll bet they'll talk about the importance of humankind's stewardship over the earth. That's a principle that has always been a part of Church doctrine.

warming bandwagon? Talk-show host Bob Lonsberry seemed to be worried about it on KNRS 570 this morning. (Segment begins at 1 hour, 16 minutes into the program). Here's a small part of what he said during an 8-minute segment:
Most other churches in America have bought into the global wrming cult and I don't want to say I'm nervous, but if I had my druthers, I would hope the LDS Church would not...

But last Saturday night when they had that cockamamey turn out your lights for an hour...deal, I was disappointed to see that the lights on the temple were turned off. As an act of symbolism, I didn't like that a bit...

...because the temple is symbolic of God and truth and I honestly think this global warming thing is an idol that is being worshiped. It is a false god. It is a cult. It is nothing short sociologically of a religion.

..and that the light would be turned out on the temple in deference to this false god that so many people are worshiping--I didn't like it.

...I wonder if Al Gore came and made his pitch as a consequence of last weekend's thing, and we've heard [our KNRS 570 newscasters] say that global warming will be discussed at this weekend's general conference. I don't know. ...I hope it's not the case.

These are filthy waters and we ought not to swim in them.
What's your take on the whole thing?

Personally, I think Bob Lonsberry has his undies bunched up a little too tight. The LDS Church has always been keen on stewardship of the earth and our environment. Dimming the lights of the temple was nothing more than an expression of the understanding of that stewardship. Al Gore's handlers contacted the LDS Church and asked for an audience. What should the LDS Church tell them--to go suck eggs?

Bob Lonsberry did say that it would take some doing for him to change his opinion on climate change if the Church made an official policy statement supporting extant theories about man's effect on the climate.

Me too.

Under the circumstances, I'd believe my Church leaders about global warming before I'd believe any scientist who claims that man is having a significant impact.

Will the Church make a statement in General Conference about global warming? I'm predicting no. But I'll bet they'll talk about the importance of humankind's stewardship over the earth. That's a principle that has always been a part of Church doctrine.

Ever since Adam and Eve walked the earth.




Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Good Latter-day Saint AND a Democrat? Isn't That Stretching Things a Bit?

Mormons, if they really looked, could find more areas where practices of the Republican party clash with their faith than do those of the Democrat party. The self-righteous arrogance of Utah Mormon Republicans, then, is much more than ironic. In some ways Utah Mormon Democrats are light years ahead of Republicans when it comes to Christlike (read: Latter-day Saint) virtues. It's time for Utah Mormon Republicans to step down off that phony pedestal that they've created for themselves and realize that they might just have some catching up to do.

According to the bent philosophies that some Republican Mormons mix with their scripture, their version of Alma Chapter 46 (beginning with verse 19) in the Book of Mormon must go something like this
19 And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among [his fellow Republicans], waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that [his party members] might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying:

20 Behold, [whatsoever conservative] will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion [against their enemies, the liberals], that the Lord God may bless them.

21 And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the [Republicans] came running together with their armor girded about their loins [while the Democrats had all joined themselves unto the bloodthirsty Lamanites], rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the[ir party platform]; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of [Moroni, their party chairman], or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of [Republicans], the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
The Deseret News published yesterday a very insightful opinion piece by Dynette Reynolds, adjunct history teacher at Weber State University. If what she says is true, it's apparent that far too many Utahns just don't get it when it comes to political affiliations. Reynolds reminds us that
Every year at election time, the LDS Church sends out an official letter stating that the LDS Church does not support any particular political party.
and that
Recently, a letter noted that both parties contained elements in their platforms that were consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
She's right. Republicans don't have, by any means, a corner on good political principles. In fact, here are some things that Utah Republicans ought to be downright embarrassed about.

1. The State of Ethics in the Utah Legislature. Almost never in recent decades have Republicans supported meaningful ethics reform in the Utah legislature. Republican ethics reform, originally billed as monumental for the 2009 Legislative session, turned out to be not much more than a whimper. What ethics legislation that did pass turns out to be completely unenforceable. A commenter on one of the Salt Lake Tribune blogs stated
Why codify ethics when Utah lawmakers can just confess to their bishops on Sunday? They're right with the lord and that's all that matters.
I'm beginning to wonder of the commenter might just be right.

2. Support for Multinational Corporations that Grind on the Face of the Poor. It's my opinion that the LDS Church welfare program works much more effectively than any other, especially including the welfare program of the U.S. Federal Government. I'm sure most Mormons agree with me on that. However, most Mormons don't see that the biggest problem with the federal welfare system is corporate welfare. Corporate lobbying, although it did come into vogue during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal era, has been developed into a very profitable form of fraud today--mostly by Republicans such as Phil Gramm, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, and Tom DeLay. The Book of Mormon, in an echo of the Old Testament warns against these kinds of people and this kind of fraud:
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the...false cswearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts.
Are Democrats involved in corporate welfare? Sure. But not nearly to the extent as the Republican gangster machine. When you say "welfare," Mormon Republicans seem only to think of individual and family welfare, which is better left to communities and states to remedy. But the kingpins at the top of their party are quintessential gangsters when it comes to unjustly acquiring for the "welfare" of themselves and their corporate cronies the fruits of other people's labors.

3. Advocacy of Empire Building in the Name of Freedom. Somehow Republicans can scream bloody murder when Bill Clinton fires off a few Tomahawk cruise missiles to get our minds off of the Monica Lewinsky affair, but we yawn when George W. Bush causes the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis on a boatload of false pretexts. It seems to me if we were really living our Mormon religion, we should decry empire building of this sort from the tops of the highest buildings.

The United States Constitution, were are taught by the Doctrine and Covenants
should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles...That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him.
The Constitution is "just and holy" because it protects individual liberty (moral agency). How is it just and holy that we kill people in Iraq and other places under the guise of offering them protection and liberty?

But the embarrassment shouldn't stop there. Utah Mormon Republicans have compounded their error by exercising a uniquely arrogant form of polito-centrism. In her letter to the Deseret News, Reynolds goes on to say that
Our Christianity and patriotism have been questioned by ward members. We have been snubbed and sneered at. We have been forced to listen to political diatribes against the president of the United States in our auxiliary meetings and testimony meetings. Racial jokes are being told in church foyers.
Unfortunately,
Some of us have even stopped going to church. We don't feel like we should have to defend our political beliefs every time we step through the church doors. We don't want to argue with ward members who spout lines from Rush Limbaugh in our church classrooms. Our bishops are trying to calm things down but they aren't having much luck.
Although I wish that Reynolds and others wouldn't stop attending church, I can imagine how difficult attending church meetings under such circumstances would be. At least the bishops seem to understand the "political neutrality" thing. I listen to Rush Limbaugh just enough to know that he is far from being a paragon of Christlike living. Regardless of that, no one should ever advocate the opinions of any political commentator in a church meeting, even if they happen to be Mormon.

I don't doubt that most Utah Republican Mormons hold a strong moral conviction in their political beliefs. What's critical for members of the majority party in Utah, however, is to never forget that the Democrats (as well as members of other parties) hold that same conviction.