A new channel has recently appeared on YouTube, entitled Mormon Leaks, whose goal it seems
In this article, I will explain the high points of the episode entitled "In Which They Discuss Politics With Senator Gordon Smith". The presentation was filmed in February of 2009.
Ralph Hardy, who introduces Senator Smith, says at about 4:15 into the segment that "it was fair to say that his staff in the senate was Church broke. In fact, not many months ago, his legislative director called me on the phone and said 'Ralph, you haven't called us for six weeks. What are we supposed to be doing?"
A great deal has been made of this phrase "church broke" by those, inside and outside of the Church, who are critical of the Church. Some even claim that raucous laughter can be heard in the background at that term. I got the impression from some of the critiques of this statement by critics of the Church that the phrase was used several times during the 48-minute segment.
It was used once, by Hardy, and there was no encouraging laughter on the part of LDS Church leaders. The video shows that Hardy's attempts at the two jokes were feeble and not well received.
I've lived nearly all of my 53 years in Utah. I've been a member of the LDS Church since I was 8 years old, and this is the first time I've ever heard the term Church broke. It's unfortunate, apparently in the context that it was used, that Hardy used the phrase, but it is no way indicative of how the LDS Church is run.
The intro concludes at about 5:50, and Gordon Smith begins to speak, first expressing his respect for "the brethren" (the LDS leaders there assembled.)
At 6:20, Senator Smith discusses how the world has become "more secular and more unbelieving" and says "in many ways the world could not be in a more calamitous condition."
The leaders of the Church DO find some things funny, such as at 6:45 when Senator Smith dons his glasses in order to read a quote, exclaiming that he has "been losing my eyesight in the service of my country." Yes, there was laughter, but not about the "church broke" statement by Hardy during the introduction.
Here is part of the quote that Smith reads: "our nation, with resources greater than any other, is rent from center to circumference with party strife, political intrigues, and sectional interests. Our merchants are perilized, our tradesmen are disheartened, our mechanics are out of employ, our farmers distressed, and our poor crying for bread. Banks are broken, credit ruined, our states overwhelmed in debt. " This was actually a quote in the early 1800's by LDS Prophet Joseph Smith. Senator Smith points out that "not much has changed in the world in what we do our work" of salvation.
Much mockery has been offered up by the critics that Smith would describe himself "one who regards his temple recommend as more important than an election certificate (at 8:35). I don't understand how someone could be so disrespectful as to think that one's religion should not be that important to him. Politics is certainly important, but a variety of religious people would make similar claims that their religion is more important than the political arena.
Even though the world is very contentious, Smith encourages members of the Church to get involved in politics.
Beginning at 9:00, Smith tells the story explaining of how he was recruited to run for political office. As a then LDS Bishop, he approached his Stake President and received permission to be released as bishop in order to run for public office.
10:30 - Senator Smith explains how as a US senator, he was able to create relationships of trust between LDS Church leaders and the political leaders of various nations.
11:30 - Smith cites several verses in Doctrine and Covenants section 134, a declaration of beliefs as to the proper role of government.
12:25 - "The free exercise of conscience is the first right of man". When government doesn't preserve this it fails us, and it fails religion in its right to preach gospel principles.
12:45 - At this point the "church broke" comment from Ralph Hardy's introduction is put into context. Smith points out that the kinds of requests that the LDS Church leaders have made of him and his staff "in Madrid, Rome, India, Belgium, Russia, and other places usually has to do with the right of conscience" and the right of the Church to pursue its mission of sharing the gospel with the world.
13:25 - Smith says that he's more recently been a critic of the Iraq war, but that he originally voted in favor of it because he felt God's hand in it. He points out that the gospel of Christ cannot be shared in Iraq until the rule of law takes root. At the time (February 2009) Smith was of the opinion that rule of law was starting to take shape there.
13:55 - Early in the war, Smith went from Amman, Jordan into Kirkuk in the north of Iraq. While there, one LDS soldier told him that the Kurdish people are ready for the gospel, and that 4 of them had already been baptized into the Church.
16:25 - When Smith told then-president Gordon B Hinckley that story, tears flowed down Hinckley's cheeks. Hinckley said to Smith that "our missionaries always follow in the footsteps of American soldiers." Some critics of the Church have alleged that this statement was evidence that Hinckley supported the Iraq war. But now you understand the actual context of the comments.
16:45 - Smith gives his view that God governs in the affairs of nations.
17:00 - The right and control of property. Smith says here that those areas of the world that become more and more socialistic become more difficult for LDS missionaries to find converts to the gospel, because the people in those countries begin to look to government to live instead of to God.
17:45 - As noble as are the motives of US welfare programs, there is an "awful arithmetic" that will cause a destruction of the US economy if not fixed, due to a declining birth rate.
18:50 - The protection of life. Smith claims that "God opposes abortion, assisted suicide, and all manner of genocide."
19:20 - Smith discusses how poignant is the issue surrounding gay rights. In speaking with the LDS first presidency some time ago, he told them that he had been characterized as hating gays. "I do not dislike them or anyone,.. I wouldn't understand why I can't be helpful to them on issues such as housing, health care, employment, and public safety." President Gordon Hinckley said he agreed with him on those issues. Smith was later able to form alliances with--and show compassion to--gays while still having them respect his feelings that he would not support gay marriage.
21:20 - The problem with "gay marriage" is that it contradicts an ideal, an enduring value to the foundational organization of the world--the family. Smith says that the societies he had observed in Europe who change this law, they change the fundamental incentives to foster healthy homes and families.
22:15 - Smith says that the majority of Americans still agree with that view on family and counsels LDS leaders to focus on that message to that majority.
23:00 - He understands what it's like for the Church to be called names, because he's experienced it. Members of the Church who supported Proposition 8 in California garnered hatred from some, but also great respect from others.
24:00 Smith's fundamentals are :Freedom of conscience, freedom of property, and protection of life.
24:45 - Smith bears his testimony of the Christ, of Joseph Smith, and what Joseph saw in the sacred grove, and that what the LDS Church is today is the kingdom of god on earth.
25:20 - ...This begins the asking of questions by LDS church leaders...
26:00 - Quentin Cook asks what are his greatest concerns after having been in the US national government. Smith responds that "secularism that is fueled by socialism", then "weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a fanatical branch of an otherwise great religion." He worries specifically about the nuclear capabilities of Iran, who has the rocketry to hit Israel. He worries about the attempted extermination of the Jews and how Armageddon might begin.
28:15 - God is in charge of economics, but there will be great economic turmail in the days ahead because of demographis that don't jive with very popular welfare programs.
28:50 - Satan knows that if he can attack the principle of life and the family, then those important things are devalued.
29:10 - Everyone of us believes in a clean environment and stewardship of earth, but radical environmentalism becomes a religion that worships the created and forgets the creator. Radical environmentalism, in his view, is a play for power.
30:30 - Smith talks of the economic inefficiencies of ethanol. One problem, he says, is that Saudis can produce oil for $2 per barrel, but we do need to realize that at some point we will begin to run out of oil. These economic stresses, along with cultural ambivalence for God, mixed with terrorism portend a spark that could create great peril in the world.
32:30 - Someone who I do not recognize then asks about the future of the US Republican party, of which Smith was a member. Smith wishes Barack Obama well, but candidly states that the then-current stimulus package is in his opinion not good economics.
34:00 - Political parties are another example of there being opposition in all things, says Smith. Both parties are uncomfortable with each other, and he talks about how the parties are different, including the claim that the Republican parties are for family values. He suspects that Thomas Jefferson would today probably be a Republican but that Abraham Lincoln would today probably be a Democrat.
36:35 - Smith talks about how the Church can get a fair shake in the country after having supported Propositions 8 and 11 (I think he meant Prop 8, because Prop 11 was about California redistricting).
37:10 - He talks about the friends of the Church (specifically Catholics and Evangelicals) that could possibly become fair-weather friends, because there are things that they don't agree with on the Church. Some religionists run cults of personality, and they use Latter-day Saints to make money.
38:30 - One way to stand up for the family and for life is to join with other religions and find out who the political leaders that come from their membership and join with them.
39:40 - Smith expresses how proud he is that the LDS Church stood up for the family. He opines that "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will win in the end."
40:20 - The stimulus package has some good things, but leaving the money in the localities will create a more healthy economy and society, because it turns over and is spent much more effectively than after being siphoned off by the national government.
45:30 - Smith talks about a miraculous event that he was involved with that allowed the Church to establish missionary work in India. He praises, among others, Democrat Harry Reid as someone who can be trusted to help with those kinds of things as well.