Speaking Truth to Power: 9/11 My Reflections Ten Years Later

43

September 9, 2011 by Ron Madson

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER: 9/11– MY REFLECTIONS TEN YEARS LATER

In early 1943, hundreds of German women did the unthinkable—they confronted machine gun wielding Gestapo agents and demanded the release of their Jewish husbands who were part of Hitler’s final roundup of Jews that were to be transported to Auschwitz. Even more remarkable, their Jewish husbands (approximately 1,700 in number) were released.


This incident, now known as The Rosenstrasse Protest, was appropriately dubbed “The Day Hitler Blinked.” This story has, until recently, been largely ignored by Germans because the consensus has been and remains that the average German was powerless against their government and its anti-Semitic policies.


Such thinking appears to be confirmed, as a practical matter, when focusing on individual martyrs such as the German latter-day Saint Helmuth Hubener
 and the occasional principled monk, priest or clergyman who defied his government’s policies of war, torture and genocide. However, what set these acts of civil disobedience apart from the Rosenstrasse protest is that these latter individuals were abandoned by their own faith community, and in particular, their church leaders.  


Then again, the Helmuth Hubeners of this world were responding to a higher authority and an audience unseen in this world.

Christian Nazis

My father told me that he observed that the German soldiers wore a Christian cross on their belt buckles during WWII. Their faith to the church and their country had converged into one. But consider what would have happened if every single Bishop, Priest, Pastor, and spiritual leader in Germany had denounced Hitler’s invasion of Poland? What if every single Sunday the German chapels and cathedrals rang with strident denunciations of even the earliest persecution of the 
Jews under Nazism?

If the united voices of a few hundred women could cause a hardened Gestapo to back down, then what effect could tens of thousands of German spiritual leaders condemning Germany’s wars of aggression have on Germany’s general population—especially if their local clergy were supported by an edict from the Pope and the leaders of all other major Protestant faiths in Germany?                                                                                                
I submit that Hitler and Nazism would have been rendered powerless. The masses emboldened by their spiritual leaders would have isolated and paralyzed the few sociopaths that were at the core of this great evil.

After reading some of my anti-war papers, a good friend asked what I consider a highly relevant question: “What is the point of all your anti-war writings and lectures?”


“Or in other words, at the end of the day, what do you or anyone protesting our nation’s wars expect to accomplish or change as a practical matter—within our nation, our church, or even personally?”


“And how does this help build the kingdom? How does it make you or any of us better members of the church?”


I will attempt to answer that by considering our nation’s war policies during the last decade in light of what I believe could have been, what is, and what I believe will be if we do not repent of our current rejection of Christ’s words to us in our generation as it pertains to the use of violence; and how that will play out for each of us individually as well as collectively. 

What Could Have Been

Imagine it is now Sunday, September 16th,  2001.  It’s been five days since the devastating attacks of what will come to be known as 9/11, and our nation is still in deep shock and in the early stages of mourning over that horrific tragedy.


Holy men who lead our respective Christian faiths search their souls to find the words of Jesus to teach us how to respond to our enemies. While giving comfort, they exhort us to not become the very evil we deplore. Demonstrating a mature faith, they teach us that we must begin to pray for our enemies and even search deep within ourselves for ways to do good to those that hate us.


Week after week, they seek to teach us to not give into our fear and anger which leads inevitably to a desire for vengeance. They exhort us that the price of discipleship is great at such times, but the promises are sure that if we will trust our God enough to follow the example of Christ, He will consecrate such faith and pour out a blessing to us, and even soften the hearts of those who we might believe worthy of our vengeance.


Having laid such a foundation, then when those in our nation insist that we seek vengeance by first invading one nation and its citizens, and then engage in a pre-emptive attack on another nation in order to send a message, how would those tutored on a gospel of non-vengeance respond?


Among faiths that take literally the words of Christ such as the Amish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anabaptist sects, and Seventh DayAdventists, there is a top-to-bottom collective belief that they must conscientiously object (ex: how the Amish responded to the massacre of their children recently with charity toward the family of the killer).


But what if all leaders of all the Christian faiths in our nation had renounced any wars of aggression and vengeance as antithetical to one’s claim of a faith in Christ? Could those political leaders -the Neocons and warmongers in high places who insisted on pre-emptive invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq- have succeeded in marshaling enough public support for such wars?


Not if every pastor and bishop had denounced such attacks, confirmed by an edict from their highest leaders informing that position.


Our nation’s “Decider in Chief,” who had told us during the Presidential debates that Jesus was his greatest hero, would have had to weigh the collective teachings of those entrusted to share the gospel each week against whether there was any popular support for commencing the works of death and destruction among the citizens of two nations who had done us no harm. 


Then let’s suppose we, as a nation, get carried away even further with a Christ-inspired model when it comes to our perceived enemies and we spend just a tenth of what we have squandered in these two wars on direct humanitarian relief to these benighted countries we attacked. How would the narrative have changed? How many schools and hospitals might we have built and how many fewer Madrassahs would have sprung up teaching anti-American hatred for the next generation?

Did the three thousand deaths from this incident…
…warrant taking revenge on hundreds of thousands of innocents like these?

“When moral contempt for a form of violence inspires so explicit a replication of it, there is only one conclusion to be drawn: The moral revulsion the initial violence awakened proved weaker than the mimetic fascination it inspired. – Gil Bailie”

“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace…” -Doctrine and Covenants 98:16

“And again, this is the law I gave unto mine ancients [which is still in effect today], that they should not go out unto battle against any nation…save I, the Lord, commanded them…And if any nation…should proclaim war against them, they should first raise a standard of peace unto that people…” -Doctrine and Covenants 98:33-34.

So let’s narrow this script and rewrite history as to our Mormon faith community. Suppose that after 9/11, our priesthood leaders instinctively turned to D&C Section 98 and raised the standard of peace and renounced commencing any wars. By “renounce” I do not mean they simply say that war is not nice and we prefer peace to war. Or worse, proclaim that we are peace loving, and like Jesus we believe in peace, while openly responding to an invitation to march to war. 


No! To renounce means to declare an emphatic NO! 


It means one unequivocally rejects a war policy that involves retribution—and especially when it involves pre-emptive acts of aggression.


If the President of the Church and the Apostles had stridently and without reservationrenounced our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, then what would have happened in our faith community?


The main body of our faith community would have heard the clarity of the denunciation and added to the chorus rejecting the call to endorse these wars. Believing parents would have discouraged children from enlisting. Section 98 would come alive to the believing saints and they would recognize the voice of the Lord in that immutable covenant. 


What difference would this make? As far as immediate effect, how many of the more than one hundred LDS soldiers who have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have enlisted, or in the alternative claimed status as conscientious objectors? 


We will never know for sure, but at many of their funerals, friends and family testified that their desire to enlist and “serve their country” had been rooted in their religious faith.


What about those injured physically and mentally? What about the lives of those “enemies”? Do they even count in the equation?


But I believe there is something at risk that goes beyond this sphere of existence. I believe that if we embrace the words of Christ in His revelations, then the heavens are opened for the ministering angels to pour out an even greater blessing as promised not only in Section 98 but in all our revelations. 


What is that blessing? Beyond peace and prosperity, there is the promise of further light and knowledge. There is the unsealing of the heavens as we receive even greater revelations and blessings, which I believe are sealed up until we actually live those revelations which we have been given.


So what would happen if, as a people, whether speaking from the Chief Seats down to the smallest primary class, we were to teach the words of Christ with conviction, utterly renouncing all forms of retributive violence?


I believe we would find our voice.


And I further believe the throngs of heavenly beings would join us. And who knows but that we, like the few hundred women at Rosenstrasse, could cause miracles to occur?


And would our united voices renouncing these wars not give courage to other faith communities and like minded people? Then, like the women at Rosenstrasse would there be enough collective refrain that those who sought moral support for their war plans would have not only “blinked” but frozen long enough to arrest what has proven to be so evil on so many levels?


We will never know.

What Happened?



There is no need to rehearse our unfortunate ten year odyssey in Iraq and Afghanistan at length in this submission. We engaged in wars of aggression against two nations, both of which had never come against us, and both of which raised the standard of peace and we rejected it


We have murdered hundreds of thousands of their civilians over these past ten years, causing an irreparable cost in lives, treasure and the spirituality of our nation.


In our Mormon faith community we have praised, encouraged, and elevated military service in these wars by framing it as a conflict between good and evil when in fact, as the prophet Mormon astutely observed, “it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.” We have excused and ignored our own wickedness by conflating these wars of aggression into the slogan that by invading and occupying other people’s homelands, we are somehow “fighting for our freedoms.” 


Following 9/11, many young LDS men and women enthusiastically enlisted in the military, knowing they had the full endorsement of our church leaders and their faith community.


So what difference did that make? What about those whose lives we placed on our altar of war?


Alyssa Peterson returned from her mission and felt it an extension of her spiritual sacrifice to then enlist in the military, only months later to find herself forced to participate in our government’s own program of torture.


Then there is Sergeant Cawley, one of the first LDS casualties in the Iraq war, who served a mission in Japan, married, and fathered two children. We know of his death because President Hinckley made sure we knew that when Brother Cawley was called to serve his nation he did so “without hesitation.” Of course, how could there have been any hesitation when we as a people had once again rejected Section 98 in both word and deed?


How could there have even been a pause to ponder among those of our faith enlisting to serve in these wars, when our authorities invited Dick Cheney and Condaleeza Rice, co-conspirators in fabricating the evidence promoting both wars (as well as endorsing a program of torture), to speak at “The Lord’s University” while rejecting the Dalai Lama’s request to speak at the same forum?


What has happened -and continues to happen- in regard to these wars, and our institutional silence in not renouncing these wars, is reprehensible; yet it is historically predictable once a church has placed its allegiance to empire above the commandments of God. Once that wall is breached, the practice of a people sacrificing their own children on the altar of war inexorably follows. 


So, what are the consequences beyond a few of our children being delivered to the fires of Moloch? No big deal. Let’s move along and stay focused on building the Kingdom of Jesus on earth.

What Follows?



Again, what good does it do to create bad feelings by being critical of our faith community? Of, as some call it, “attacking” Church leadership? What’s the point of spending so much energy diverting us from our “real” mission to share the gospel’s good news, which is that you too can overcome your addiction to coffee, tea, and tobacco. You too can become a holy, chaste, commandment keeper, personally worthy and feeling really, really good about yourself as a member of The All Is Well For You & Me Club.


Yes, you too can know those warm feelings that come from reading the scriptures, praying three times a day, attending church, wearing white shirts, excellent hygiene, home teaching, taking cookies to the new neighbor—all wrapped up in the warm blanket of personal spiritual health.


All these things are nice, but if in the end one’s spiritual development never matures beyond the pharisaical narcissism of “personal” self-righteousness, then what do we have?


What we have are members of a Church, but nothing remotely resembling The Kingdom of God. 


One graduates spiritually when one takes off his or her church training wheels and becomes a contributing member of Jesus’ Kingdom by doing as Jesus did -standing in the breach for the least among us, denouncing the evil done to others, giving voice to His words on behalf of the Samaritan, the sinners, the outcasts and yes, even one’s enemies.


That is the price of admission to his Kingdom and the beginning of genuine discipleship, even if it means unpopularity within one’s religious community or national tribe.


And what is the price if we reject His teachings and support the latest “Christian” crusade? Does it really make any difference to us individually or collectively? 


It made all the difference in the lives of those individuals who have suffered grievously in these wars—even if we only count those of our own faith such as Alyssa Peterson, Brother Cawley and last week’s obituary. That is enough reason to renounce these wars, is it not? 


But there is, in my opinion, something more spiritually cosmic at work here. Latter-day Saints believe that the original church of Christ began to drift into apostasy when they deeded their allegiance to the Roman Empire and engaged in what is referred to as “The Constantine Shift.”


Bishops, priests, and then Popes all began to consistently set aside the words of Christ and endorse nearly every state sponsored war—and in fact taught that it was one’s Christian duty to enlist. Is it any surprise that the heavens became brass, and revelations ceased despite the Catholic church’s claim to legal priesthood pedigree? Why would the Heavens commune with such a church and its leaders lest such manifestations of charismatic gifts be considered lending its imprimatur of approval on such behavior?


 Of course the medieval catholic church continued preserving the truths from its origins but preservation is not the same as “true and living.”


Do we really believe that we latter-day Saints are exempt from the sealing up of the heavens if we engage in our own Constantine Shift? Can we pay lip service to the words of Christ found in our sacred texts, but in actual church policy blatantly reject His “immutable” covenant and expect further endorsement from the same God? 


When we trust in the “horses” and “chariots” of Egypt (Isaiah 31:1) do we not “err in vision” and “stumble in judgment”? (Isaiah 27:7). If we reject His words found in our “doctrines” and “covenants,” can we then expect the same blessings as a church found in the same body of revelations that includes specifically “receiving angels”, “opening up the mysteries of heaven”, “communion with the Church of the First Born,” and “being in the presence of God”?


How can we expect to lift the condemnation that is upon us if we continue to “treat light the things (we) have received” and do not “do according to that which I have written”? (D & C 84: 54- 57).  


More to the point, if we do not repent by renouncing our State sponsored wars, how can we expect the Lord to bless us?  If the Lord were to send through our church leadership ministering angels as well as His direct presence, would we not interpret that as approval of our current actions?  If the gifts of the spirit were again to pour out upon this church as they had in the early years of its founding, would we not assume from observing these gifts that we were on the right path?  Wouldn’t such marvelous gifts and healings as were abundantly experienced by the church in the Missouri-Nauvoo period serve to comunicate His approbation on our church and its current leadership?


What does it then tell us when we look around and us notice the absence of these spiritual manifestations in the Church today? 


Does this plunge toward failure we seem to be heading as a nation (not to mention as a faith community) not stand as a witness of God’s disapproval of our new policy of pledging allegiance to empire over His words and teachings as found not only in D&C 98, but throughout the New Testament and Book of Mormon? I believe so.


Like the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, we have rejected the continued presence of God and his ministering angels and have chosen mortal icons to lead us as we seek to conquer Canaan—a conquest that had the audacity to teach that there is spiritual immunity when we kill every man, woman and child who stands in the way of our“freedom”—and that when we commit these abominations, it is God’s will.

Where are we now as a people? 



This past year I was with a group of protestors outside the Marriot Center, protesting Condeleezza Rice’s appearance to speak at BYU (essentially the same group that protested Dick Cheney’s speech at the same forum three years earlier). While we were gathered outside, she was in the Marriot Center telling the full-capacity stadium how our nation “had” to engage in pre-emptive wars. To speak plainly, I interpret such doctrine as “let’s get them before they get us”—which includes, if necessary, dubious “evidence” obtained through torture.


Her words were received by what the press called “vigorous clapping”—while our small group of no more then thirty dissidents stood outside in the cold denouncing her message justifying our nations’s unprecedented pre-emptive wars. I believe that the ratio of those applauding her comments to those who protested her remarks no longer reflects the same ratio of those of our faith who endorse our nation’s current pre-emptive war doctrine. In fact, I believe that increasing thousands in our faith community privately believe that it was a great sin to endorse in any way our current State sponsored wars.


I believe that we first need to decide individually where each of us stands as to these State sponsored wars. Then if we believe we must renounce these wars, decide whether we are willing to do so publicly— no matter how few join with us in the renouncement.


For some of us, that personal decision was made a long time ago and it is, in the end, irrelevant as to whether others join in or whether it appears we “made a difference.” We are witnessing to an audience that is beyond this veil—whose approbation means everything in the final spiritual equation.


What is the point of protesting our faith communities’ current relationship to State sponsored wars? What will happen the next time a Dick Cheney is invited to speak or the next time a church leader endorses either our present state sponsored wars or the next wars which will surely come? What if, as the wives in Rosenstrasse, there are hundreds -no, thousands- of outraged mothers in Zion defiantly protesting? What if they, in moral outrage, say “NO MORE of our sons, our daughters, our husbands will be placed on your altar of war.” 


And they do not say it in wilting, primary voice tones typical of church meetings. No, THEY SCREAM IT! 


Could we as a faith community have an impact?  Would we force our leaders (both political and spiritual) to “blink”?  Would our refusal to give the Mormon stamp of approval at least cause some of our fellow citizens to pause before offering up any more of their own children to these false gods? In the words of Martin Luther King, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” 


A decade of relative silence in our faith community is enough. We must choose to obey the Lord’s commandment and publicly renounce these wars in the most emphatic means. I believe it will make a difference.

Ron Madson 9/11/2011

About these ads

43 thoughts on “Speaking Truth to Power: 9/11 My Reflections Ten Years Later

  1. Ron, this is dynamic!

    You may not have noticed though, that the third paragraph trails off. I’d like to see what that is supposed to say.

  2. Ron Madson says:

    Nice catch Rock. I do not know how to edit it so I will try to figure it out and have Josh M. fix it.

    And thanks for the reading the post and positive feedback. Look forward to your next post on Pure Mormonism.

  3. Dave P. says:

    I learned some sad truths about the LDS Inc. while working for the church and I’m going to raise a question that most members will immediately condemn me for but needs to be considered: What connection(s) does the church or its leaders have to those who have made money off of these wars?

    We all know Cheney is a war profiteer and Utah’s greatest source of income is through its military equipment. Given that the church is involved with owning casinos in Vegas and was involved in the SLC Olympics scandal, what guarantee do we have that this isn’t the case either?

  4. Ron Madson says:

    Dave P.
    I should first clarify as I mentioned in previous threads, that I believe I see three distinct entities in our faith community that overlap at times to varying degrees: There is the Kingdom of God on earth which I fully sustain, the “church” which I pray and hope for (see 3 Nephi 16/ and Mormon 8 as to why we should be concerned about the “Holy” church of God in the last days run by Gentiles) and then there is LDS, Inc. or the corporation that thinks it is a church or a kingdom of God on earth–which entity I largely distrust.

    As to your question? How in heck would any of us know given there is no transparency since early 1960s as to church finances. Having worked for LDS Inc., have you read Daymon Smith’s “Book of Mammon”? I have in its entirety and I believe/suspect that there are forces in any corporation whose metric is “get and retain as much money as possible” is capable of doing all sorts of nefarious things–especially by those who have the added Dick Cheney motto of “the ends justify the means” –even worse cloaked in religious terms of “we are on the Lord’s team and building His Kingdom” —-so do any and all things to move it forward for in the end all is justified if our ends are noble.

    So is it possible/probable that many in our faith community like other communities throughout this nation made bucket loads of money promoting our militarism abroad? Of course, business as usual. I personally doubt any one leader planned out support to gain this $ advantage, but rather $ is made on such wars and it is just a reality that we have long, ago like other mainstream protestant/evangelical faiths. deeded over our allegiance to the American empire. So why not make $ in the process of “spreading freedom” around the world which allows door to open (I mean blown apart) so we can enter and preach the gospel of Jesus in the rubble.

    But what do I know? I only recently found out about the LV casino connections and the SLC Olympic Scandals (and about our mysterious “Ensign Peak Advisor’ group) so, you tell me/us. This forum is highly uncorrelated. Who has profited in our faith community and how? Does follow the money apply here?

  5. NorthboundZax says:

    Fantastic response, Ron.

    I can’t help but think we missed a moment to change the world. What would have happened if instead of endorsing war, Pres. Hinckley had denounced it? Before the Iraq invasion, the nation was deeply divided on the issue. LDS were some of the strongest drum beaters in favor (and continued to be for longer than the rest of the nation). If the most ardent drum beaters in the divided society had suddenly renounced war and proclaimed peace, it may have turned the tide in public opinion. I am sure that collectively standing for something could move mountains if we let it mean more than saying no to taboo beverages.

    • Forest Simmons says:

      Recently I realized that we have probably missed a lot of great opportunities for changing history. While reading the great historical novel Okla Hannali by R. A. Lafferty, I realized that in the 1830’s the Saints missed a perfect set up (as in volleyball) for joining forces with the Native Americans that had been driven out of the South Eastern states (by Andrew Jackson). It was the perfect set up for fulfilling the positive option of the following prophecy of Nephi:

      (from chapter 14 of first Nephi)
      1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed [as He did to the Saints], unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks [i.e. they have received the Book of Mormon which would restore the "plain and precious things"] —

      2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father [in this case Native Americans]; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.

      3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.

      [It seems to me that we have missed several opportunities for coming out on the happy side of this prophecy (if the Gentiles repent...) I'm afraid that there might not be many more such opportunities before the following clause kicks in:]

      6 Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God.

      7 For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.

      Note that the choice of peace and life eternal go together, i.e. being convinced of peace is the same as being on the road to life eternal.

      Again note the Lord is talking most specifically about the Gentiles that have been given the Book of Mormon and other great light and knowledge, basically the North American Mormons of European descent.

      This prophecy is confirmed and repeated in more detail in chapters 16, 20, and 21 of Third Nephi, by the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.

      • Ron Madson says:

        Forest–you always seem to come up with new insights and relevant scriptures to back you up. I had never considered the linkage of the word “peace” and “eternal life.” Nice insight.

    • Ron Madson says:

      NorthboundZax,
      So true! I suppose we have missed innumerable opportunities and that is why we still are without, imo, even a semblance of Zion. We basically are more involved in “life coaching” then embracing the radicalism involved in building a collective (it has to be collective) Kingdom of God on earth. That would entail finding ways to eliminate all poverty–very radical. In the meantime, even a real debate over our faith communities war doctrine would be a major step forward in eliminating a major cause of world poverty. It begins with each of us with our words and deed beating swords into plowshares. If you look at any major advancements in any institutionalized faith/church it often begins with a few dissidents/voices, grows to many and then the issue is queued up. That is how I understand the change in our policy of excluding blacks from the Priesthood. There were voices objecting here and there, papers written (Lester Bush’s had a major influence on President Kimball), then voices grow into a chorus and then the issue is cannot be ignored. Once faced head on through honest inquiry, uncorrelated discussion and then seeking revelation, the truth finds a way. The troubling aspect of the war/peace issues is that we already have settled, almost statutory doctrine telling us what to do but we have largely ignored it in our generation as the church did in 1838. But I am optimistic that times are a changing. thanks for contributing your voice here. Look forward to your future input.

  6. Forest Simmonsfwsimmons says:

    After reading this passionate but carefully considered essay, I wondered again (as I have over the years) why our church leaders give so much deference to political leaders, not just in the USA but even sharing photo ops with dictators of countries that they visit. It seems to me that it is a form of bending way over backwards to give them a benefit of a doubt; if those political leaders let us send missionaries to their countries and let us worship freely there, then we won’t look too closely at their “wars and perplexities.” It seems to be a “we have our stewardship and they have theirs” way of thinking.

    Most of our general authorities carefully avoid (what they recognize as) political issues in their conference talks. They either think it is outside their stewardship or that they shouldn’t speak up unless it is something that they all agree on. So when the president senses the elephant in the room and says something, everybody hangs on every nuance of every word.

    Last weekend we visited Orem for the blessing of a new grandson. The lesson in the HP group was based on Pres. Uchtdorf’s message about getting the benefit of conference. One class member said that he went to April conference hoping to hear insights about what has been happening to the economy in this country and the world. I reflected that I too would like to hear inspired insights about current events. I go to counterpunch, democracynow, mormonworker, etc. for insights, but it would be nice to have some really inspired insights from our leaders. But they probably don’t pay much more attnetion to world events than I did when I was in Argentina on my mission, practically oblivious to three military coups from Levingston and Lanusse to the return of Juan Perón. ( I read about them later; but at the time I resented all suggestions that there was such a thing as Yankee imperialism, etc.) When some students asked us what we thought about Liberation Theology, and asked us if we wanted to participate in a discusion about it, we didn’t know or care what they were talking about. (“I send you forth to preach my gospel, not to be taught of men.”)

    On most issues I agree that the members should just do their own homework; “It is not meet that we should be commanded in all things.” If we are taught correct principles, we should be able to apply them to current events. But the correct principles in section 98 seem to get short shrift, while other wonderful principles like the word of wisdom, the law of tithing, etc. are taught not only by precept, but by many inspiring examples of obedience leading to the attendant blessings.

    If more church members showed concern about this life and death moral issue of war, perhaps leaders would more fully take up the study of the “wars and perlexities of the nations” as urged in section 88 when there was a school of the prophets concerned with such things. I believe that if they studied it carefully in the light of ancient and modern scriptures, they would soon see the necessity of reaffirming previous proclamations from church leaders (generations ago) against war in general and apply them to current and contemplated wars in particular.

    I also thought of Ezra Taft Benson who was not afraid to speak his opinion on political matters in conference. Politically he was a libertarian like Ron Paul who has opposed these wars from the start. While I was thinking about E.T. Benson, I said to myself, “Of course where he is now he sees clearly all of the unrighteous dominion, foreign and domestic, military, police, and economical, carried out in the name of America (not to mention other flawed states of lesser influence), and is among the heavenly hosts preparing their part of the liberation effort from the other side of the veil.”

    For what it is worth, I felt a strong sensation of confirmation of that thought.

    I believe that all of our late leaders now see (more clearly than we) as did some in this life including Brother Joseph, Brother Brigham, Brother Spencer W. Kimball, etc. and they are all doing their part. And as Ron says, they are pleased to see even our puny attempts at making a difference from this side of the veil, because for the most part their hands are tied until we act; we are the bottle neck in this project. They do indeed see us, and we have promised to be witnesses “at all times and all places even unto death.” They saw Rachel Corrie, and she is now with them. and (unless my faith is totally vain) Alyssa Peterson is safely in their bosom, too.

    Besides my faith in God, I respect, support and admire our leaders in general for the spirit they carry with them, their devotion to the Lord, and their faithfulness and service in the church. I am confident that when the leading brethren are truly confronted with these issues enough to consider them carefully and prayerfully, with an awareness of how much the Lord is depending on them to unleash the forces of righteousness (specifically in this life and death moral context) by using their priesthood keys to invoke the powers of heaven as did Enoch in his day … I am convinced that then the leading brethren will unanimously measure up to the task. (I do not and never did have that kind of confidence in Obama, that if the people just showed him enough support, he would honor the progressive agenda that people thought he was promising by his motto of hope and change.)

    Perhaps then will come the great division of which Nephi speaks. Some members will repent, and some will never admit that they were on the wrong track.

    There was a division in June 1978 when the brethren announced the will of the Lord concerning his priesthood. The division was not among the leading brethren, but among some of the members who could not repent. We lived in Texas at the time; most members were joyful at the news, but a few did not hide their resentment from the black investigators who started attending with the missionaries. Fortunately most members did not feel that way. It would be nice if eventually the division over denouncing war and proclaming peace also turns out to be a relatively minor one among Mormons.

    The division in heaven was over the issue of unrighteous dominion. Lucifer wanted to lord it over everybody else. Inflicting violence (military, police, or economical) is an unrighteous exercise of power, not to mention mental abuse and emotional manipulation. Latter-day Saints should know better than to end up on the wrong side of this great dividing line.

    When we go to demonstrations, I carry a sign that says, “Serve God, not Mammon,” on one side, and “People are People, too,” on the other side.

    • Ron Madson says:

      Perfect and very informative. I had forgot about the Rachel Corrie case. We owe it to these real martyrs to give them voice, and like you there is more at stake then meets the mortal eye and ear.
      Let’s create a division. Ironically it is the only path to peace. To continue with business as usual is not an option lest we find ourselves as abandoned spiritually by the heavens as we claim the the churches were during the dark ages.

  7. prometheus says:

    Powerful words, Ron. Honestly, I feel some conflict about the whole war issue, and I think there can be times where the only choices are bad ones, but I can also imagine a world where every soldier dropped their weapons and refused to fight. There is real strength in unity.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Ron Madson says:

      Prometheus,

      Radical concept isn’t it? And yet the one example Jesus cites when he shows up in the New World is the anti-neph Lehites—their radical pacifism was the fruit of their being born again.

  8. Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

    Hello Ron,

    I had lost contact with you until a friend sent me a link to this blog. I am the current chapter leader of the John Birch Society here in Las Vegas. This may give you some indication of my political views. I agree with your stance against the warfare state America has become. May the church always maintain it’s “independence” (particularly from political machination).

    You might enjoy the press release I sent out last week:

    With a campaign message bound to elicit howls from atheists, contemplation from believers and be largely ignored by the media, Floyd Fitzgibbons announced today that he is running for Congress in 2012.

    “Not enough citizens of the United States recognize that unless we turn to God, forsake immorality, live righteously and wake up to the subversive tactics being used against us, it won’t matter who is elected or what political procedures are employed – we will continue to lose more and more of God’s blessings on our nation. As President John Adams said, ‘Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’ America is suffering. Certainly we have already fallen to some degree from His grace. To an extent we can blame current conditions on our elected officials, poor political decisions, the powerful and greedy – but ultimately with our individual and collective unrighteousness and lack of vigilance we have brought this on ourselves and allowed it to happen.”

    Fitzgibbons, like all Nevada candidates who must wait until the boundaries are drawn before declaring the Congressional district they will run in, did not declare if he would run with a political party or as an independent. He said that his message makes being elected most unlikely, but if a miracle happened he would publicly encourage decency instead of decadence. “Americans,” said Fitzgibbons, “by our spiritual slumber and sloth have allowed the enemies of our souls and nation to gain tremendous ground. Instead of fighting these threats at home, we engage in numerous, aggressive military actions throughout the world, we continue to allow the killing of millions of children thru abortion, traditional marriage and the family are under attack and yet the percentage of people who attend church is at an all-time low. And in Las Vegas, as well as supporting the vice of gambling, we have mobile billboards openly advertising the sex trade, the proliferation of so-called “Gentlemen’s Clubs” (which no true gentlemen would ever enter), nude swimming pools at several hotels and a shameful slogan that ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ (as if the consequences of adultery and fornication can be escaped). But I believe there’s a connection with such sleaze and the fact that Vegas is economically the hardest hit city in the country.”

    On other issues, Mr. Fitzgibbons said he would strictly adhere to the limitations on federal government outlined in the Constitution and not vote for any bill whose measures (in whole or in part) are not authorized by the enumerated powers. He supports returning our country to a sound monetary system, including elimination of the Federal Reserve. He is opposed to un-constitutional federal regulation and would introduce bills to repeal federal laws that violate the powers reserved to the states and individuals especially those involving health insurance.

    Floyd Fitzgibbons is a 54 year native of Las Vegas. He and his wife have been married for 31 years and have 2 children. His hobbies include mountaineering – including a same-day ascent and descent of Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the continental U.S.) and golf. Mr. Fitzgibbons, who believes the Founding Fathers were inspired by God in drafting the Constitution, is a former candidate for Congress in 2008 and Governor in 2010. He has spent 31 years in church service and missionary work. Other service includes: Unit Commissioner, Varsity Coach, Scoutmaster, and Den Leader in the Boulder Dam Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America for 10 years as well as a Little League and Youth Basketball coach for 8 years. He and his son Ryan own Fitzgibbons & Associates – a Nevada based independent insurance agency.

    Fitzgibbons for Congress 2012
    8301 Fawn Brook Ct., Las Vegas, NV 89149
    Campaign Office Phone (702) 951-7242
    fitz111@cox.net

    • Ron Madson says:

      Run, Floyd, Run!

      Awesome. I just love iconoclasts such as yourself. Very radical and fearless in a town that has and will largely reject their Jeremiahs. Nice to have you show up here. Visit often and contribute.

      What are your chances in the race? Are you there primarily to give voice to your opinions much like Ron Paul does?

      Say hi to all the LV people we know in common.

      • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

        Hi Ron,

        Normally, my chances in the race are about 1%. The masses are programmed to vote for “the lesser of two evils” and not to “waste” their vote on someone who has “no chance” of winning. Add to it that I’m calling out their wickedness and my chances are probably 0.5%. I tell those who vote for me that they have “opted out” of the herd hell bent to go over the cliff.

        I am a big fan of Ron Paul. I run because the spirit urges me to. It does give me some forum to voice the truth, but the major party monopolies make sure I don’t get much air time.

        Floyd Fitzgibbons

  9. Forest Simmons says:

    I wonder if frequent visitors of this Mormon Worker blog would be willing to sign on to a letter of some kind to the First Presidency, saying that we believe that as Christians we should denounce war and proclaim peace in keeping with section 98, etc. A minimally adapted version of Ron’s post would be super, as far as I’m concerned.

    Individuals are discouraged from writing because they are supposed to go through their priesthood leaders. But where two or three are gathered together in agreement about a common concern even the Lord will be there with them.

    Is there a good way to circulate and modify drafts until we have something that most participants could agree to?

    One problem with this is that usually letters of concern are simply referred back to the local priesthood leaders to handle. But if there are enough signatures to render that option impossible or impractical, that worry is mitigated. Signers identifiable by name might want to use pseudonyms. Would that diminish the effectiveness or would it just dramatize to the brethren that some of us feel intimidated?

    I’m not against regular channels for regular concerns, but we want to combine our voices, and we don’t share local PH leaders. Even if we did, they might not all be sympathetic enough to pass our concern along.

    • Ron Madson says:

      I’m game. There are other petitions out there for other issues such as changing policy of making those civilly married to wait a year before temple sealing if otherwise worthy.

      My own limited ambition is that next time a Cheney or Rice type is invited to BYU that we have 300 protesting instead of just 30. I am convinced that can be done and should be.

      I might work on a Petition that is succinct and put it out there. Any suggestions welcomed.\\

      “They” do listen I believe. They are our brethren and this is a church governed by Common Consent. Not that it is a democracy and we vote but we are collective intelligences and we should add our voices civilly and respectfully. President Hinckley said it was our right to dissent. Like Cordelia to King Lear sometimes the most faithful and loyal children are not those that flatter the King but those that faithfully dissent.

      nice suggestion. let’s explore it.

      • injerrajason says:

        I just want to say that I think sending a petition to the first presidency stating our desire that the church proclaim peace and reject war (NOW) is a great idea. I for one would definitely sign it.

        Also, I live 9 months out of the year in Ethiopia but let me know when you’re planning another protest and I’d try my best to participate. So disheartening that only 30 showed up before…

        jason_m_burton@hotmail.com

  10. Forest Simmons says:

    Another thought is that somebody reading this blog might have access to the ear of a member of the twelve. Elder Holland is my late first wife’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband, i.e. the husband of the wife of the husband of the wife of the older sister of my late first wife.

    I’m afraid that isn’t close enough.

    Anybody with a closer connection to a sympathetic ear? If so why not give him a copy of Ron’s essay?

  11. Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

    By the way, Elder Nelson addressed almost all the concerns mentioned here in his October 2002 General Conference address:
    http://lds.org/general-conference/2002/10/blessed-are-the-peacemakers?lang=eng&query=peace(+name%3a“Russell+M.+Nelson”)

    Floyd Fitzgibbons

    • Ron Madson says:

      Floyd, great to hear from you! One of my favorite LV people!

      I wanted to respond to your mention of Elder Nelson’s address. I am extracting an excerpt from a paper that I submitted to be published later this year that addresses Section 98 and makes reference in part to how Section 98 was addressed post 9/11 by our church leaders. Elder Nelson gave a wonderful address which was followed by President Hinckley in the next conference. Anyway, here is an extraction from that paper ( the church PR department’s statement qualify Elder Nelson’s address can no longer be found by normal means but I saved it and published it in my paper:

      “Elder Nelson in the fall conference of 2002 gave an entire conference address focusing on D&C 98 which he stated requires us to “renounce war and proclaim peace” by applying all the principles of that covenant.11 CNN picked up Elder Nelson’s address, which caused CNN to conclude that the Mormon Church has issued a strong anti-war message referring to our “current hostilities”—which at the time was the invasion of Afghanistan and proposed invasion of Iraq.12 The church public relations department immediately responded with an official statement that Elder Nelson’s talk had been misinterpreted as to being applicable to our “current hostilities” and that “the Church itself, as such, has no responsibility for these policies, other then urging its’ members fully to render loyalty to their country.”13 The following spring, and just days after our invasion of Iraq, President Hinckley delivered his key note address in General Conference directly addressing our doctrine as to “War and Peace.”14 President Hinckley referenced D&C 98 by stating: “Modern revelation states that we are to ‘renounce war and proclaim peace.’” (D&C 98:16). This isolated reference to D&C 98 was followed by two other subjunctive statements as to whether we would as a faith renounce our current wars: “We can renounce war and proclaim peace” and “This places us in the position of those who teach peace, who work for peace.” However, unlike Elder Nelson’s address, President Hinckley’s statements as to our general desire to promote peace could not be as easily misinterpreted as an anti-war message as to our “current hostilities” for two reasons: First, because he did not in fact “renounce”15 these two wars. In the opinion of many, including myself, a “Renouncing” of a war demands that we go further then just saying ‘war is not nice’ rather it is declaring a resolute ‘No!’ as to a particular war; and secondly, stripped of its general commentary, the doctrinal “summum bonum” of his address can be succinctly found in three non-qualified statements:

      “As citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders”;

      “We also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our government” and

      “One of our Articles of Faith, which represents an expression of our doctrine, states ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.’”

      Then President Hinckley articulated one additional obligation to those who are in our military service: “Those in the armed services are under an obligation to their respective governments to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound and to which they have dutifully responded.”

      President Hinckley’s reliance on our national leaders’ judgment was not only based on our allegiance to our nation, but also founded on his belief that “They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.” He then chose to muse as to the pros and cons of our two wars and shared with us what governed his “personal feelings” and the “dictates” of his “personal loyalties” in the present situation which rests on the belief that the invasion of these countries was analogous to the Nephites defending their families even unto bloodshed as well as defending liberty. And finally, a latter-day war indulgence (see fn. 1 above): “God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.”

      11 Russell Nelson, “Blessed are the Peacemakers” LDS General Conference October 2002
      12 CNN Reported: “The Mormon Church issued a strong anti-war message at is semiannual General conference clearly referring to current hostilities in the Middle East, advocating patience and negotiations” and “The Golden Rule’s prohibition of one interfering with the right of others was equally binding on all nations and associations and left no room for retaliatory reactions, Nelson said at the meeting Saturday.”

      13 “Message of Peace Misinterpreted” retrieved from the official LDS website Archives April 25, 2007

      My point is that the address of Elder Nelson was essentially neutered by the PR department once it was perceived by the public that it was a denunciation of “current hostilities”—in other words Section 98 does not apply to any real, contemporary war—huh???

      I will send you a copy of my paper once published outlining Section 98 and a historical review of how Section 98 was largely ignored in 1838 as it is now being rejected in word and deed.

      • Floyd Fitzgibbons says:

        Ron,

        You’re a wealth of information.

        Whatever the LDS media spin was after the fact, I’m sticking with the original message of Elder Nelson. I heard the message loud and clear and I believe it. And as far as we know, Elder Nelson didn’t recall his words! :)

        By the way, I’ll never forget your words, “When do we get to be men?” Very inspirational.

      • Forest Simmons says:

        “When they joined the military they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound and to which they have dutifully responded.”

        When I joined the Army in Feb. of 1967 I took an oath to defend our country and constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic. [I don't remember the exact words.] By the Nuremburg principles this does not mean blind obedience to illegal orders or entail participation in an illegal war. Elder Packer, who, like Howard Zinn, served as a bomber crew member in WWII knows this. I wish he would speak his mind on this topic, like Howard Zinn did so eloquently for the rest of his life.

  12. Ron Madson says:

    To those reading this post, I wanted to link you to one of my favorite blogs called “Pure Mormonism” aka Rock Waterman. Rock is a real gem in the mormon blogosphere. He took this post and re-posted it at his site and added a preface that is indicative of Rock’s many writings, here: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/

    Check out all of Rock’s posts at his site–they are all worth the read.

  13. day2mon says:

    Ron,
    I think you’ve pointed out the basic problem: we have no leadership in Mormonism, and little regard for revelation. Both “leaders” and “members” are accountable for the evils you’ve outlined, which should’ve been renounced, and avoided by us. All this talk of “freedom” is to me a sign that the word means nothing, or little more than “get on my side”. Matters that require courage, risk, personal sacrifice, and reliance on God – once the great contribution of Christianity – have become instititutionalized in a way that gives the media lens priority, and so, the logic of spectacle capitalism has become our governing Liahona. Thus, we find that one must “serve one’s country” by volunteering for a voluntary war with no explicit purpose or even vaguely stated goal, or give money to a corporate entity that was bought off long ago. No other ‘sacrifices’ or forms of ‘strength’ are even intelligible to most Americans, if we judge by what is accessible in mass media.

    We (Mormons, generically speaking) seem to lack a social venue for representing other forms of courage that you’ve discussed and embodied, like renouncing war and bearing the standard of peace (despite whatever the cost); forms of sacrifice other than of one’s blood or our collective treasure have almost no presence in media spheres, and this is satanic because it opposes Christ with the most insidious means: church, patriotism, defense of home and family, all corrupted.

    Given that our ProphetsSeersandRevelators converted their roles into PR agents, it comes as a logical conclusion, I suppose, that their words would follow the lens of the camera, and the market, before the explicit revelation from God concerning taking the making of war. ‘

    But, you’ve at least made it clear that not all Mormons ignore both revelation and history.

    • Ron Madson says:

      Word!
      For those of you that follow this blog, I would highly recommend reading Daymon Smith’s works such as his Dissertation on Correlation and for sure his very illuminating book, “The Book of Mammon: A Book about the Corporation that Owns the Mormons.” It is a must read for all mormons that care about our faith community now and in the future. Also, you can follow his latest insights at his blog called “Mormonism Uncorrelated” linked here (deep thoughts that are worth taking the time to read and ponder): http://daymonsmith.wordpress.com/
      Daymon your phrase “media lens priority” and then “the logic of spectacle capitalism has become our governing Liahona” hits the mark. I will have to steal those phrases in the future.

  14. Joseph says:

    An interesting (though graphic) and similarly themed article from Chris Hedges here

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/nationalism_in_the_aftermath_of_9_11_20110910/

  15. nat kelly says:

    Ah, Ron, I have only gotten halfway through this post, and will have to take a break to finish the rest later. This strikes at me too deeply. The vision you paint for what could have been, the beauty you see in our potentiality – that’s why I haven’t left yet. But I just feel so hopeless.

    So much lost. So needlessly. And we, so complicit. I can hardly bear to think about it.

    • Ron Madson says:

      Nat Kelly,
      You have a great heart for you too feel so deeply. It means a lot to me to have others that resonate with the message of peace even if it seems to have so little traction at times

      However, here is my goal. The next time we have to protest something in Utah such as Rice or Cheney at BYU that we have 300 instead of just 30 show up for a protest. It can happen with a little advertising and like the Rosenstrasse incidence, miracles can happen with enough critical mass. We all need to hang in there together. thanks for expressing your sentiments.

      • Forest Simmons says:

        We would come if we didn’t live 800 miles away.

        Before Cheney and Rice there was Thatcher. Her social Darwinist talk was proudly included in the BYU Alumni magazine.

        Brother Bateman answered my letter of protest by saying that she had been approved by Pres. Hinckley. Later I found out that he not only approved her visit, but enthusiastically introduced her to the student body.

        Today our family watched (again) Amazing Grace, the story of how William Wilberforce and friends were instrumental in abolishing slavery in England by peaceful means, long before our civil war.

        While watching it I thought of Captain Moroni’s letter to Pahoran. The letter was a rebuke, but Pahoran, who had been indecisive, thanked Moroni for helping him figure out what the right course of action was.

        We’re in a situation similar to that of both Wilberforce and Moroni; we can see the killing train hurtling tragically onward while most men of influence are complacently going about their business as usual. How can we dramatize this?

        A year or so ago Pres. Eyring (as reported in the Liahona magazine) taught that we can become one with our fellow men by becoming one with Christ. He illustrated this by showing that if people all gather around one figure they end close to each other. So that (in a nutshell) is how our leaders envision the human race reaching a unity of the faith, establishing peace, etc.

        It makes a certain kind of sense, but my question is this: does coming unto Christ just mean receiving a forgiveness of personal sins? Or does it mean actually living like he taught?

        I think closeness to Christ follows from keeping our covenants that we have made with him, and that in those covenants we promised to bear one another’s burdens, etc. In other words, we must work on living like in oneness with each other if we want to have any kind of oneness with Him.

  16. Gregory VanWagenen says:

    As a secular dude I hesitate to comment on this article, except to say that religious leaders aren’t the only people in the world who failed to condemn the violence and hatred which has replaced the real spirit of America.

    On the day that America launched its destructive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, declared war on its own citizens via the PATRIOT act, and set loose the CIA to spy on American citizens, the terrorists won their greatest victory. The goal of terrorism is not military conquest, but a lowering of the spirit in the terrorized people. T.E. Lawrence (the first international terrorist, in my opinion) wrote about this in his book *Seven Pillars of Wisdom*, and it has been repeated in books by Mao, Che Guevara and many others. In committing their terrorist act, the 9/11 hijackers and their masterminds were hoping to inflict psychological damage, and thereby lower everyday Americans to an extremely base level of consciousness. With the help of the US government and media, the terrorists have succeeded wildly.

    The depths to which the American consciousness has sunk was illustrated by a personal friend from my American town who came to visit me while I was spending summer break at home (in Canada). We went to a schoolyard to eat a picnic lunch. “Aren’t we going to be arrested for breeching their security?” she asked, as we sat at a table. Later she told me “I wouldn’t want to go back there again. They’ll think we’re perverts.” On another occasion she told me she was uncomfortable with the fact that “people say hello here and look you in the eye and expect you to say hello back, I don’t talk to strange people, it’s creepy”

    This is the level of fear and mistrust that Americans now take as normal interaction. Everyone is frightened of his or her neighbor, people expect to be molested at American airports in the name of “security”, and nobody talks to one another. There is a permanent suspicion attached to everyone, and Americans fear arrest for no reason. Individual Americans now refuse to have healthy contact with others, and everyone is seen as “on the make”. America resembles, psychologically and socially, a huge, open air prison, where everyone fears getting shanked the minute s/he steps outside his or her front door.

    In 2001, the United States was the world’s penultimate superpower. Today, it is a society which is in the median stages of social and economic disintegration. This is the end which terrorists seek with their means, and the really surprising thing is the fact that the terrorists were able to accomplish this with only one act, ten years ago.

    • Ron Madson says:

      So true! We are one mentally ill nation–add to that global warming and Canada is looking better and better–eh….

      • Gregory VanWagenen says:

        Canada is one of the major environmental criminals with the tar sand exploitation and a lot of sabre rattling (Canadian government idiots are actually talking about military action with Russia over some melting ice near the north pole… look it up, you wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t hear it from them… yeah I’m sure that will end well!) Many parts of British Columbia already look like the moon after big transnationals were given the green light to clearcut every piece of vegetation in sight, and Canada has joined in the rush to subjugate and colonize other nations by sending its own boys overseas to murder folks in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, no, Canada is no paradise. People do seem to treat one another markedly better though, and the Canuckistanis don’t molest people at the airport… not yet, anyway.

  17. Gregg Stucki says:

    It is so refreshing to come across an article where someone captures many of the feelings that have been rattling around in my brain, and they eloquently and thoughtfully put them to paper (and even expand upon them with added insight). Thank you Ron. You hit the nail on the head.

    This issue has been of growing concern to me for a number of years. I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with our country’s policies regarding war. With so many LDS friends having military connections, even a whisper of dissension or criticism brings raised eyebrows and fevered cries of duty and patriotism. I’ve repented from my earlier days where I viewed war through ‘camouflaged’ glasses. There is such a powerful effort to romanticize war and make it seem like it is the highest and noblest form of patriotism. When you combine these feelings with stories from the scriptures it can produce an exceptionally strong zeal in people. This in turn blinds one to the harsh realities of what we have become. It results in people saying things like, “Our God is a God of war,” which happened once in a fast and testimony meeting.

    In addition to some of the excellent sources listed in the comments above, here are a few more that I did not see anyone reference.

    I find the words from President Kimball’s classic talk, “The False God’s We Worship” very powerful. Near the end he addresses the topic of war (this is only one paragraph),

    “We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching: Love your enemies…”

    Each time I review this talk I find it reaffirming. Also High Nibley’s piece on “Pre-emptive War” and of course I careful reading of the war chapters in the Book of Mormon will reveal that the idea of pre-emptive war, where we retaliate by “going into their land” puts us in a position contrary to God.

    “And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land. And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.” (Mormon 3:10-11)

    “And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them.” (Mormon 4:4)

    “Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands. But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.” (3 Nephi 3:20-21)
    When I review these verses and compare them against the rhetoric and rationale for committing troops to continual foreign wars, it is clear there is nothing righteous about the wars we are fighting.

    Provo is a 3-1/2 hour drive for me, but I will seriously consider making the trip next time another “ambassador for war” comes to speak at BYU. Please keep me in the loop regarding plans to protest. I’ll be the one wearing the following placard:
    ———————–
    | Who’s On The |
    | Lord’s Side? |
    | |
    | 3 Ne. 3:20-21 |
    ———————–

    • Ron Madson says:

      Greg,
      thanks for reminding us about President Kimball’s statement. It is so remarkable in quality but also rarity on such occasions.

      Your post has given me the idea that we need to create a list of those that might be available to protest, sign petitions, etc. I believe the reasons we had so few in our last protest was probably more of a lack having an organization to marshall the forces then lack of those that were willing. Also, I will be preparing a short, direct Petition (web page/ facebook, etc.?) for those of us that are likeminded members of the Mormon community to sign where we “renounce” these current wars in unmistakable terms and proclaim peace. I think it should include a brief summary outlining where and when we will unitedly conscientiously object to any future conflict. No need to wait around for someone in our priesthood line to do so. We can and should be anxiously engaged independently in such things and not wait on anyone nor expect anyone in leadership to carry the banner. If they do they do.

      thanks for showing up and sharing your perspective. The scriptures you quoted hit the mark. thanks.

  18. americansaturdayinc says:

    I was on my mission during the 9/11 attacks I was in Venezuela which at the same time was going through its own uprising. I remember the words of the hymn “Press Forward Saints” that gave me great comfort at a time of difficulty.

    Press on enduring in the words of Christ proclaim his love through days of mortal strife. Thus saith our God ye have eternal life.

  19. valerie says:

    I am so happy to find this blog! I have been very active protesting here in Wisconsin, and I am so glad to find that other Mormons share some of my beliefs and concerns about the world and the culture of the church. Thanks!

  20. Ron Madson says:

    Valerie,
    Welcome! Visit often and share what your thoughts. Meanwhile, you mention your protesting in Wisconsin. What exactly have been the nature of your protests?

  21. Forest Simmons says:

    It was the murder of an outlaw, Korihor, that alerted Alma to the degenerate moral state of the Zoramites.

  22. Kory Branham says:

    Ron,
    I applaud you for your courage, eloquent writing and spiritual sensitivity. I was moved by your piece and appreciate the alternate vision is represents.

  23. [...] en el diario The Salt Lake Tribune, y también Ron Madson hizo mención de ella en el blog del Mormon Worker (versión [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 194 other followers

Categories

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 194 other followers

%d bloggers like this: