The case for Book of Mormon socialism


March 1, 2011 by The Mormon Worker

Opinion piece from the Salt Lake Tribune by Troy Williams:

“Whether one accepts the historical or theological claims of the Book of Mormon, one theme in it is obvious: At their most righteous, the Nephites presented in the book were benevolent socialists; at their most depraved, they were greedy free-market capitalists.

In the zenith of Nephite culture, “the Lord called his people Zion because they were of one heart and one mind and they did have all things in common — and there were no poor among them.” . . .

Read the rest of the article here.

79 thoughts on “The case for Book of Mormon socialism

  1. Dave P. says:

    Ah yes, yet another person who has no clue about how free-market capitalism works. There is no sin in being rich as the Lord blessed the Nephites countless times with wealth from their hard work and diligence during their periods of righteousness. The problems came when they began to become prideful and focus more on their wealth than utilizing that wealth as the Lord directed (helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc.).

    Recall in Helaman 6 how when free trade was opened with the Lamanites, both civilizations prospered exceedingly and experienced several years of great joy and peace until the Gadiantons began acting up again and the Nephites began accepting them and their oaths into the society, which of course led to wars and a famine that nearly wiped them out again. In 4 Nephi the book mentions that the people prospered like never before and were never more happy because they had the love of God.

    Along with that, I also wish to counter the opinion piece with this little tidbit of history about how free-market capitalism kept the Mayflower pilgrims from starving to death:

    And my final point is that the Lord doesn’t urge us to give to the poor and help the needy as part of a grand wealth redistribution scheme, it’s to test our humility and faith in Him by sacrificing what we have to be able to help others. We can give whatever to the poor, be it money, food, clothing, etc. What they decide to do with it is up to them but the Lord will still bless us for our sacrifice in helping that person by our own agency.

    • tariq says:

      The most righteous societies in the scriptures were not based on capitalist economies at all. In the examples of the city of Enoch and the righteous society described in 4 Nephi, it wasn’t that rich people were kind and gave to the poor. The important feature in those economies is that there were no poor and there were no rich. In other words, major wealth redistribution and fundamental systemic change. Hugh Nibley talked alot about this; that scripturally, in order for a society to have no poor, there must also be no rich. The example of 4 Nephi shows that as soon as people were not content to be equal, when some people wanted to be rich (that is, have more than others and be socially and economically above others) that is exactly when things started to go downhill. More traditional sins such as lying, stealing, murdering, cheating, etc. didn’t enter the scene until after economic inequality began to take root. As Jesus said, the love of money is the root of all evil. “Free-market” capitalism thrives on economic inequality and social division. Corporations make more profit if there is a large pool of low-wage laborers to exploit and who are desperate enough to undercut each other rather than unite. The righteous societies in 4 Nephi and in the city of Enoch may have been “free markets” in some loose interpretation of the term, but they were not capitalist at all. What capitalists nowadays refer to as a “free market” is not free and it is not a market. It is organized theft and extortion, protected by the State, and it could not exist without income inequality, manipulation, threats, lies, and ultimately coercion. (For example, see how the government and corporations in Wisconsin are scrambling to try and take away the rights of workers to assemble freely and to collectively bargain).

      Brigham Young blamed the failure of the United Order on rich Latter-day Saints who trusted more in capitalism than they did in the Lord. The phrase “there is no sin in being rich” does not resemble any sentiment Jesus ever expressed during his life. He had nothing but words of warning and condemnation for the rich. As Hugh Nibley pointed out, if you are looking to the scriptures for something to soothe the consciences of the wealthy, you are not going to find it without doing some serious stretching.

      • shematwater says:

        Brigham Young did not blame capitalism. He blamed the greed of the people, the desire for worldly riches. This is not the same thing, as David points out.

        There is no sin in being rich, and I have no doubt that Christ would agree. What he was against was the love of being rich, not simply being rich. His words never condemn a man for being rich, but for his actions in regards to his riches.

        Also, capitalism does not thrive on economic inequality. Inequality actually hurts a truly capitalist system, as if the consumer is too poor to buy the product the producer isn’t going to sell anything. What capitalism thrives on is individual ingenuity and resolve, which are stifled in all other systems.

      • Joseph says:

        Brigham Young did criticize capitalism, though he did not necessarily know how to do so directly. Read Arrington’s “Brigham Young: American Moses.” Brigham Young served a mission in England at the height of their failed attempt at laissez faire capitalism, and he was not impress.

    • Joseph says:

      Dave, I understand your concerns, and I do respect the notions of pure free markets, etc. And I respect the fact that you are consistent in your philosophy (I do recognize the huge difference between your views and those of neocons). There are probably a number of things we could agree on.

      But there are some things I’m not convinced of. Note that yes, with free trade there was quick prosperity, but the Gadiantons also expanded pretty quickly in those circumstances. We’re supposed to learn from the mistakes of the Nephites, not repeat them. In terms of 4 Nephi, I don’t believe that “prosperity” is being used in the the same way someone in Utah Valley might. We’re not told they had lots of money, nice cars, and big houses. Prosperity can also be having what you need and not having to stress about it. As Peter stated, “We have sufficient for our needs.” Being in circumstances where you don’t have to worry about where your next meal comes from is generally the result of organized group effort, i.e. some form of socialism.

  2. Jacob S says:

    I’m not sure it’s useful or accurate to call the Book of Mormon either socialist or capitalist. Those ideas just plain didn’t exist for them and they are so loaded today as to automatically create tension and division, which doesn’t seem like the right Christlike tact to take.

    However, 4 Nephi is clearly the social order that we, as Mormons and followers of Christ, are meant to emulate to the fullest possible. And I don’t think a complex, large society like the Nephites and Lamanites had could achieve perfect social equality without a systemic redistribution of wealth from the more wealthy to the more poor. In the economic system we are living under today, which we Mormons tend to embrace and worship, we have not and cannot achieve Zion like in 4 Nephi. So why do some cling so fiercely to it?

  3. Joseph says:

    I enjoyed this article. Thanks for sharing! It is interesting that he is using the Book of Mormon to support Democratic Socialism as opposed to Libertarian Socialism. I actually od for pragmatic purposes sympathize with Democratic Socialism, but ideally, of course, libertarian socialism would be the ultimate goal. I just don’t know how you get to that from what we have. Infrastructure and working together as a society are important, and I just don’t see many libertarian left or right thinkers explaining what would replace the infrastructure we have if we were to go to “pure” free markets or socialism.

    Anyway, I think it could be argued that righteous Nephite leaders were working towards a kind of Democratic Socialism (not necessarily the same, though) under the reigns of the judges, with the Amalackiah comparable to Fox News. Looking at the potential parallels, the transition to pure socialism in 4 Nephi was brought about by the civilization being destroyed and then rebuilt from scratch.

  4. shematwater says:

    First of all, it is very possible for the societies of the Book of Mormon and the City of Enoch to exist without a systematic redistribution of wealth. All that is required is for people to stop loving money and possessions and instead love their fellow man.

    A systematic redistribution of wealth is the government forcing equality on the people, which did not happen in the Book of Mormon or the City of Enoch. In both cases the people, as a united force with no descent, decided to love their neighbor more then they loved riches. It had nothing to do with the government, and therefore is not rightly called socialism (which depends on government).

    Now, I will agree that they lived a very capitalist economy at times, and I have no problem with that. When the laws of God are not the laws of the government there is no better economic system you can have. All other systems are based on government control and oppression, which is a lot worse than corporate control.

    Now, I will again agree that in the Capitalist system it is possible for the unscrupulous and dishonest to take advantage of others, but it is still the choice of the consumer. It is in other systems that these same people can operate and the consumer doesn’t have a choice.

    • Joseph says:

      We have choices, yes, but also consequences. The consequence of concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, as the Book of Mormon shows time and time again, is that civilizations are destroyed.

      Moroni didn’t have any trouble redistributing wealth. He pulled down the pride and nobility of the rich, leveling them as they tried to defend their property (Alma 51:17). He told the wealthy Nephite aristocracy that God would “give unto us of [the wealthy Nephite’s] food, even if it must be by the sword” (Alma 60:35). Moroni was not attacking pacifists or those who disagreed with the war. His enemies were the wealthy war-mongering Nephite elite who were forcing the poor to do all the fighting, suffering, and dying. Also, righteous Nephite leaders were clearly not respecting property rights since Korihor complained that the people couldn’t “make use of that which was their own” (Alma 30:28).

      Corporate control is far worse than control by a democratically elected government. It is also far more despotic, since corporations take away more rights than government, and have no accountability. The current situation in the United States is proof of that. And things are getting worse, not because of government control, but because of corporate control.

      Also, you’re attacking the wrong crowd since most at the Mormon Worker seem to be on the Libertarian Left, so they dislike both government and corporations. You can attack me if you want, but I’ve already heard it all before.

      Lastly, there are many types of socialism. Your assertions only apply to the narrow definition given to that word as a result of McCarthyism.

      • shematwater says:

        Alma 51: 17 Moroni was not redistributing wealth, but was protecting a just government from those who sought to overthrow the freedom of the people. They were referred to as King-Men for a reason. He never attacked a private citizen because they were rich. He went to war against those who were seeking control through the government. (This verse never even mentions wealth.)

        Alma 60: 35 Again, he was not going against the private citizens for being rich, but against a government that refused to support its military. His complaint was never that a few are more wealthy than the rest, but that the government was not doing its proper job. (He is addressing the chief judge.)

        The actions of Captain Moroni were in no way a “redistribution of wealth.” They were the acts of a righteous man trying to preserve the freedom of his people against those who sought to destroy it. He never went against the “rich” and such is never even mentioned. The closest thing to this is the term of “High Birth.” Moroni went against those in the government who were seeking more control; those who, in the verse reference, were hoping that by not defending the kingdom they could gain power and make themselves king, which they did do. This caused the troubles that Moroni is addressing in the second reference, as they were cutting off the military to weaken it, having allied themselves with the Lamanites.

        There was no hint of Socialism in these verses, but a powerful example of freeman standing up (through voting and then open conflict) to preserve the free government they lived under (kind of like the Tea Party).

        Alma 30: 28 Korihor was an Anti-Christ. His accusation was false, as is shown later in the chapter by Alma’s response to him. He had no legitimate complaint, but was seeking to incite the people against the church of God, which is clearly seen in verse 53.

        Government control is always worse for one simple reason: Corporations can be checked, by the government and the consumer; but who is going to check the government? You give even an elected body to much control and you will find yourself living in a worse oppression than any corporation could create.

  5. Forest Simmons says:

    Under the law of Moses which the Nephites practiced up to the coming of Christ, there was a seven year release and a 49 year jubileee, in which all debts were cancelled.

    By way of contrast, Capitalism is more like the game of monopoly in which, no matter how equal the opportunities and initial conditions, the luck of the draw eventually concentrates the wealth and power.

    In the game of monopoly, when this condition obtains, we grudgingly applaud the winner and then start over, analogous to having a jubilee year. But under capitalism the winners say, “We’re just going to keep on playing. Here; I’ll lone you some money on the basis of structural adjustments, etc.”

    • Ron Madson says:

      “For the Win” Forrest. Perfect analogy.

    • shematwater says:

      Under Moses the Laws of God were the Laws of Government. In the United States this is not the case. As such this government does not have the right to enforce such a law.

      One cannot accurately compare the United States to the Law of Moses or any other city or nation in which the Laws of God are also the Laws of the Government. the comparison can only be made between two nations that use the Laws of God, or two that do not.

      So, using accurate comparisons, is there any government that ever existed (where the laws of God and Government were not the same) that provided a better standard of living for it’s people than the United States? Is there any nation that has at its head mortal men that has done better? I know of none.

  6. tariq says:

    Those on the right often criticize marxist/leninist socialism, and rightly so, by saying that while it may look good on paper, that is just not how it operates in the real world. In the real world it turns into repression and the destruction of the individual. I think that the same kind of criticism can be applied to capitalism. You say that capitalism thrives on individual ingenuity and resolve, not on economic inequality. I say that theoretically, yes, it does thrive on those things, but in the real world, it quickly turns into exploitation, injustice, and inequality. Capitalism rewards arrogance and greed and punishes humility and Christ-like behavior. Theoretically it is not supposed to, but in reality that is what it does.

    In the example of 4th Nephi, the people weren’t simply nice and loving. The love in their hearts moved them to restructure their economic system so that there were no rich and no poor. Rich people were not being nice to poor people by giving charitable donations and the like. There were no rich to donate and no poor to donate to. They had a system based on cooperation and mutual aid rather than one based on competition. The nuts and bolts of this economy were administered over by the Church’s centralized leadership, just as the failed United Order that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young wanted the Saints to live by was designed to be administered over by the Church centralized structure. In that there was a centralized authority controlling the economy, it was similar to what we might call marxist socialism, but it differed in that it was not a coercive authority and leadership positions (callings) worked on a rotating basis, which gives it some common elements of libertarian socialism (or anarchism).

    I don’t think it is right to refer to it as a marxist system or an anarchist system, but it certainly was some form of what we might in modern terms call Christian Socialism (which is not the same thing as marxism/leninism). Whatever it was, it was certainly not a capitalist economy, and when it started to move in a more capitalistic direction, everything quickly fell apart and the society became what the scriptures called “exceedingly wicked”. As for Brigham Young’s thoughts on economics, I would refer you to his own words in the Journal of Discourses. His condemnation of the rich and his warnings to the rich are a major theme throughout and it is impossible to miss, but if you don’t want to go through all of that, and I don’t blame you for that, then I think no one better captures Brigham Young’s economic spirit better than Hugh Nibley in his classic book Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints.

    Lastly, no righteous people in the Book of Mormon were “kind of like the Tea Party”. While there are some exceptions, the base of The Tea Party is a bunch of angry racist white people who fantasize about guns, hate immigrants, and are mad about having a black president, period. Also, well, let’s just say there are not many spelling bee winners among their ranks. I know they use the word “freedom” alot, but so did the confederates who fought to preserve the institution of slavery. Not surprisingly, many of these tea baggers wish the confederacy had won the Civil War and they long for the good old days before women and black people had rights. They watch alot of FOX News and they don’t like to read much in the way of literature because in their minds, reading is gay. How you see any resemblance between them and Captain Moroni is a mystery to me.

    • shematwater says:

      The Nephites in 4th Nephi were living the United Order, and I freely admit this. However, the United Order is not socialism or any other form of governmental experiment that has been tried.

      Bruce R. McConkie, in his book Mormon Doctrine, speaks to these social experiments as part of the evil turmoil that is a sign of the last days.

      Now, if you want to give a broad definition to Socialism than you can compare it to anything you want and it will work out.

      Also, I do not see evidence of Capitalism causing any problems in the Book of Mormon. The problem was not caused by people wanting to make their lives better then they were, but from a desire to appear better than others. This is not capitalism. Greed and capitalism are not synonyous terms.
      This also applies to Brigham Young and everything he said. He condemned the pride and greed of the rich, not the economic system that we live under. Yes, he was disappointed that the saints were not able to live the United Order (because of their greed) but he never condemned the Capitalist system.

      Now, speaking of the Tea Party, none of your accusations are true, and none even have any evidence to support them (except in a few rare instances). I am a great supporter of the Tea Party movement.
      The Tea Party movement is a wide sweeping movement (including many black people) who are simply upset that a few elitists (like the King-men in Alma) are trying to funamentally alter our national government and have risen in opposition to them (like Moroni did).

      • shematwater says:

        One other Note: It was under the Capitalist system that, in the 50’s and 60’s, the United States acheive the highest standard of living ever known. It was not the corporations and businesses that caused the trouble, but government regulation. Capitalism, when left to opperate as it was meant to, with cause less trouble than any other system, as history has so perfectly shown.

      • tariq says:

        As a student of history, I can confidently say that history has not shown that at all, and the 50s and 60s were a time of extreme exploitation and abuse on the part of big business against the working class. Your tea party idea of the good old 1950s is a fantasy that only existed in reality for a small percentage of white people. The 50s and 60s certainly were not very kind to women and black people, which is why so many women and black people organized to fight against the exploitation and abuse they faced in that time.

        Bruce R.McConkie also said that black people would never get the priesthood, so I don’t put very much stock in anything he ever said. Plus, he specifically states that his book Mormon Doctrine is to be taken as his own personal opinions and not an official Church statement on matters or the pure word of the Lord.

        The Tea Party “movement” is not wide or sweeping and it has very few black people in it. It is mostly, but not only, old white men who love guns, hate immigrants, and are angry that a black guy with a foreign sounding name is the president, period.

        Brigham Young most certainly did criticize the capitalist system. His words on this are so numerous that it is unnecessary to quote him, but if you don’t believe me, just ask and I will be happy to provide you with some of them.

      • shematwater says:

        You may be a student of History, but you are looking through some tainted glasses.

        Bruce R. McConkie is one of the greatest writers for the church. Yes, it is true that he wrote the book as his thoughts, but it was later approved by the First Presidency of the church.
        He never said that Black people would not hold the priesthood. He said that they would not until God ordained otherwise, and that nothing men did would change this.

        The Tea Party is much larger than you are suggesting; there are a fair percentage of them that are black; there are also a fair percentage of them that voted for the “black guy with a foreign sounding name.” Your libelous accusations are unfounded and completely false.

        I would love a reference to anything Brigham Young said that condemned Capitalism.

  7. J. Madson says:

    Shem, fyi. from the first presidency meetings as to Bruce R McKonkie’s book. You should really stop trying to call people out when you clearly dont have all the facts.

    Jan 7, 1960 (Office Journal Dvaid O’Mckay)
    “The First Presidency met with Elders Mark E. Petersen and Marion G. Romney.
    They submitted their report upon their examination of the book “Mormon
    Doctrine” by Elder Bruce McConkie… Elder Petersen stated that the extent of the corrections which he had marked in his copy of the book (1067) affected most of the 776 pages of the book…. It was agreed that the necessary corrections are so numerous that to republish a corrected edition of the book would be such an extensive
    repudiation of the original as to destroy the credit of the author; that the republication of the book should be forbidden and that the book should be repudiated in such a way as to save the career of the author as one of the General Authorities of the Church. It was also agreed that this decision should be announced to the Council of the Twelve before I talk to the author. Elder Petersen will prepare an editorial for publication in the
    Improvement Era, stating the principle of approval of books on Church
    doctrine. A rough draft will be submitted to us for approval.”

    also from Jan 8, 1960
    “11:55 to 12:15 p.m.
    The First Presidency held a meeting. We decided that Bruce R. McConkie’s book,
    “Mormon Doctrine” recently published by Bookcraft company, must not be
    re-published, as it is full of errors and misstatements, and it is most
    unfortunate that it has received such wide circulation. It is reported to us
    that Brother McConkie has made corrections in his book, and is now preparing
    another edition. We decided this morning that we do not want him to publish
    another edition.”

    Jan 28, 1960

    “At Council meeting I reported to the Brethren our decision regarding Elder
    Bruce R. McConkie’s book “Mormon Doctrine,” stating that it had caused
    considerable comment throughout the Church, and that it has been a source of
    concern to the Brethren ever since it was published. I said that this book had
    not been presented to anyone for consideration or approval until after its
    I said further that the question has arisen as to whether a public
    correction should be made and an addendum given emphasizing the parts which
    are unwisely preserved or misquoted or incorrect; but it is felt that that
    would not be wise because Brother McConkie is one of the General Authorities,
    and it might lessen his influence. The First Presidency recommend that the
    situation be left as it is, and whenever a question about it arises, we can
    answer that it is unauthoritative; that it was issued by Brother McConkie on
    his own responsibility and he must answer for it.”

  8. J. Madson says:

    Shem, you should also be aware that McConkie disagreed with your assessment himself in a conference address.

    “There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say,

    “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

  9. J. Madson says:

    Now as to the OP. Let me quote in part from the Proclamation on the Economy (By the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve – July 1875). Whatever they are preaching is certainly not capitalism.

    “To The Latter-day Saints
    The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice.”

    Among the chosen people of the Lord, to prevent the too rapid growth of wealth and its accumulation in a few hands, he ordained that in every seventh year the debtors were to be released from their debts, and, where a man had sold himself to his brother, he was in that year to be released from slavery and to go free; even the land itself which might pass out of the possession of its owner by his sale of it, whether through his improvidence, mismanagement, or misfortune, could only be alienated until the year of jubilee. At the expiration of every forty-nine years the land reverted, without cost, to the man or family whose inheritance originally it was, except in the case of a dwelling house in a walled city, for the redemption of which, one year only was allowed, after which, if not redeemed, it became the property, without change at the year of jubilee, of the purchaser. Under such a system, carefully maintained, there could be no great aggregations of either real or personal property in the hands of a few; especially so while the laws, forbidding the taking of usury or interest for money or property loaned, continued in force.

    One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it more equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both State and National, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not be taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is liable to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once powerful was the sure precursor of ruin. The evidence of the restiveness of the people under this condition of affairs in our times is witnessed in the formation of societies of grangers, of patrons of husbandry, trades unions, etc., etc., combinations of the productive and working classes against capital.

    Years ago it was perceived that we Latter-day Saints were open to the same dangers as those which beset the rest of the world. A condition of affairs existed among us which was favorable to the growth of riches in the hands of a few at the expense of the many. A wealthy class was being rapidly formed in our midst whose interests, in the course of time, were likely to be diverse from those of the rest of the community. The growth of such a class was dangerous to our union; and, of all people, we stand most in need of union and to have our interests identical. Then it was that the Saints were counseled to enter into cooperation. In the absence of the necessary faith to enter upon a more perfect order revealed by the Lord unto the church, this was felt to be the best means of drawing us together and making us one.

    To-day, therefore, cooperation among us is no untried experiment. It has been tested, and whenever fairly tested, and under proper management, its results have been most gratifying and fully equal to all that was expected of it, though many attempts have been made to disparage and decry it, to destroy the confidence of the people in it and to have it prove a failure.

    A union of interests was sought to be attained. At the time co-operation was entered upon the Latter-day Saints were acting in utter disregard of the principles of self-preservation. They were encouraging the growth of evils in their own midst which they condemned as the worst features of the systems from which they had been gathered. Large profits were being concentrated in comparatively few hands, instead of being generally distributed among the people. As a consequence, the community was being rapidly divided into classes, and the hateful and unhappy distinctions which the possession and lack of wealth give rise to, were becoming painfully apparent.

    Co-operation has submitted in silence to a great many attacks. Its friends have been content to let it endure the ordeal. But it is now time to speak. The Latter-day Saints should understand that it is our duty to sustain cooperation and to do all in our power to make it a success.

    Does not all our history impress upon us the great truth that in union is strength? Without it, what power would the Latter-day Saints have? But it is not in doctrines alone that we should be united, but in practice and especially in our business affairs.

    Your Brethren, Brigham Young, Charles C. Rich, Wilford Woodruff

    George A. Smith George Q. Cannon

    Lorenzo Snow Orson Hyde

    Daniel H. Wells Brigham Young, Jr.

    Erastus Snow Orson Pratt

    John Taylor Albert Carrington

    Franklin D. Richards

  10. tariq says:

    I think that J. Madson did a better job responding to you than I would have, so I don’t see a need to get too much into it, but here is an excerpt from one of Brigham Young’s letters in which he says that one of his main reasons for establishing the Brigham Young Academy (which became BYU) was to counter the gospel of free enterprise (capitalism), which was then being preached by capitalist fundamentalists like Spencer and Miall:

    “We have enough and to spare, at present in these mountains, of schools where . . . the teachers . . . dare not mention the principles of the gospel to their pupils, but have no hesitancy in introducing into the classroom the theories of Huxley, or Darwin, or of Miall and the false political economy which contends against co-operation and the United Order. This course I am resolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to. . . . As a beginning in this direction I have endowed the Brigham Young Academy at Provo and [am] now seeking to do the same thing in this city [Salt Lake City].”

    Of this letter, Hugh Nibley commented:
    “With his usual unfailing insight, President Young saw it was the economic and political rather than the scientific and biological implications of natural selection that were the real danger and most counter to the gospel.” (Nibley, Work We Must but the Lunch is Free.)

    Brigham’s talks are full of similar sentiments. He was not fond of the United States’ economic system and neither was his predecessor Joseph Smith, which is why both men labored to institute a completely different kind of economy for the Saints to live by. The full name of the United order was actually the United Order of Enoch, Joseph Smith clearly holding up the City of Enoch, where there were NO RICH and no poor as the example to emulate. Joseph and Brigham did not want a system in which rich people unselfishly gave alms to the poor. Rather, they wanted a system in which there were no rich or poor and where economic equality and cooperation stood in place of competition and “free enterprise”. I think Brigham Young had many faults and I don’t take every word he ever said as gospel truth, but it is clear that while he was probably as racist as your tea bagger “movement” is, he was not on board with its economic philosophies.

    Don’t fool yourself about the size or demographics of the tea party. I’ve seen the rallies. I live just outside of DC and I remember the day of the big Glen Beck rally. It was like some kind of ugly people convention. You had like two token people of color surrounded by thousands of xenophobic, racist, homophobic, redneck gun nuts with poor spelling abilities (many of whom believe, by the way, that Muslims and even patriotic Mormons like you and Glen Beck are all going to hell for picking the wrong religion.) There are a few backwards-thinking regions of the country where the tea party has alot of sway, but the vast majority of this diverse country sees the tea party as a joke. There are few places where tea party candidates can win elections, but if the mainstream of the Republican Party runs a tea party candidate as their front runner on the national level (and I hope they do), they will lose by a landslide. Your claim that the tea party has a fair amount of Black people and former Obama supporters is ridiculous even at face value. I have a set of working eyes. Give it up, man.

  11. shematwater says:


    Concerning Bruce R.McConkie I may have been in error. (I say may have as I have not had the opportunity to verify the sources you give.

    However, even with the assumption that what you and TARIQ give concerning Brigham Young, I admit no error. Tariq gave the truth in the quote from Hugh Nibley. Brigham Young was speaking out against the Darwinian Capitalism, not pure capitalism. The idea of natural selection in anything is appalling and can only lead to great oppression. We saw this in the later half of the 1800’s, the time period of Brigham Young. It is this idea that some people are naturally selected to be wealthy that Brigham Young hated so much.
    Now, speaking on basic ideas, I have never denied that Brigham Young favored the United Order over Capitalism, and I agree with him. The United Order is the greatest form of economy that can ever be created. However, the United Order is not socialism. Even in all the quotes given I see no hint of supporting socialism, but rather the United Order, as he says, it is in unity that we are made strong.
    Example: He never once advocates the idea of communal property, which is the basis for socialism. He instead advocates that through co-operation no single person acquire more personal property than is needed, which is the basics of the United Order (and very possible under pure capitalism).


    I understand the United Order perfectly, and it has nothing to do with a centralized body dictating what the individual needs. I would love to live under this system, and just as strongly I would hate any form of socialism that has ever been proposed.
    In the United Order each individual works to produce what they can. They then voluntarily bring all that they do not need to the central distribution where those who have need of it are provided for. It is working in co-operation with each other.
    I don’t know what I said to ever give the impression that I ever consider the United Order to be a lot of rich people giving charity to the poor. I don’t remember ever making this claim. I have read the scriptures just as must as you have and I know what they say, and such a comment is contradictory to them.
    What I did say was the United Order required people to have a greater love for their neighbor than for their riches, but this is no where near the same thing. If I love my neighbor like my self (as has been commanded) I am not just going to donate to some charity. I am going to assist him in building up his own life, help him build a house that he is comfortable with, not just provide a shelter that he can stay at. I am going to help him in planting and harvesting so that he will get the most from his property and efforts and have a greater chance to support his family. I am going to assist him in acquiring those things that he needs to be happy. This is what Brigham Young was talking about when he was talking about co-operation, something that was more common before the industrial error and the theory of natural selection.

    Of course, when I consider the true nature of the United Order I see greater similarities to Capitalism than I do to socialism, just on a larger scale. I say this because within the United Order all men will increase in wealth. There won’t be rich and poor, but all men will be wealthy. This is the basic premise of Capitalism: Using what you have to get more. It is just that we will co-operate with each other to help all get the greatest benefit out of the system.

    In socialism there is no private property and so there is no chance in acquiring more property. This is not the United Order.

    As to the Tea Party, I am tired of your ignorant, prejudiced anger towards a group of great, patriotic Americans, and so I will cease commenting concerning them.

  12. tariq says:

    The United Order had nothing to do with “acquiring more property,” it had to do with ensuring that everyone was taken care of on a basis of need instead of greed and that there was economic egalitarianism among the saints. You are right that the basic premise of capitalism is “using what you have to get more” if you just add the phrase “no matter who you have to step on, no matter how many ecosystems you have to destroy, and no matter how much democracy you have to subvert.” The premise of the United Order, on the other hand, was not “using what you have to get more” at all. It was based on the premise that we are all beggars before God, so we should stop worrying about who deserves what, humble ourselves, and make sure everyone is taken care of equally; to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities. That sure doesn’t sound very capitalistic to me.

    I don’t doubt that tea baggers are patriotic Americans. I just don’t think they are “great.” Patriotic Americans are what is wrong with this country. Patriotic Americans are why the state is able to get away with torture and unjust wars. We need more independent-minded, critically-thinking individuals and less flag waving, gun-worshipping, prejudiced, ignorant, allegiance pledging, queer bashing, right-wing trash.

    • shematwater says:

      Maybe you misunderstood what I was saying.
      The United Order, while the purpose of it is to ensure that no one is lacking for anything they need, will result in the acquiring of more property, as this is the best way to complete the purpose it has.

      As to what Capitalism is, you are again seeing things only through the lense of your own anger and are refusing to acknowledge that Capitalism, in and of itself, is not what you are describing. You accused me of confusing two forms of Socialism, and now you are confusing two forms of Capitalism.
      Capitalism, in its true sense, does not tollerate exploitation or oppression. It is in the Natural Selection Capitalism that this is used. Please keep the two separate.

      Speaking of the Tea Party, see my post of March 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm. I am sick of the unsupported accusations and the senseless anger you seem to want to spew out.

  13. J. Madson says:


    you may have to get the journals at the church archives. As to the Bruce R. McConkie talk, here is one source

    • shematwater says:

      Thank you.

      I agree with what he is saying, that it doesn’t really matter what he said in the past. So, a better response to what was said concerning him is what he himself said on the subject. He was speaking with a limited understanding on this particular subject and had reached the best conclusion he could at the time. The Lord corrected him and we shouldn’t worry about it anymore.

      Now, going on the basic argument that Tariq made (quote: Bruce R.McConkie also said that black people would never get the priesthood, so I don’t put very much stock in anything he ever said.) we should also dismiss everything that Brigham Young said, as Brother McConkie was basing his statements on Brigham Young’s words. As such we disregard anything he ever said in regards to economy.
      Argument closed.

      • Joseph says:

        Except for the fact that the central focus of this post is not Brigham Young or Bruce R. McConkie (they were only brought up in response to your comments). You have not addressed Book of Mormon socialism except with the standard LDS post-McCarthyism mantra of “The United Order is not socialism, Zion is not socialism,” etc., etc.

        “And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the Heavenly gift.” (4 Ne 1:3)

        That is some form of socialism. It may not be Marxism, Leninism, or even Trotskyism. It doesn’t seem to me to be the Democratic Socialism the author of the Tribune editorial seems to be speaking of (though this does not detract from the most important insights in that editorial).

        But the phrase “they had all things common among them” indicates some form of socialism or communism. I’m tired of the sophistry used to try and find a way around that. The verse was translated by the power of God, and it is at it stands. That’s the “case for Book of Mormon socialism.”

        Any Capitalism that does not tolerate exploitation is, to me, actually a form of socialism.

        I am not going to say the argument is closed, because I believe in intellectual freedom so anyone is welcome to say whatever they want about what I have said. But reiterating past arguments is not going to change my beliefs.

      • tariq says:

        If you disregard anything Young ever said about economy, then you have to disregard the entire United Order, in which case, why are you even engaging in this conversation? Whether or not Brigham Young was right about anything is irrelevant to what I am saying. My point has nothing to do with that. All I was saying is that the United Order’s greatest champion, after Joseph Smith, disliked the capitalist system, thought it was conducive to wickedness, and tried to institute a completely different type of economy for the Saints to live by; one based on cooperation rather than one based on competition. You are trying to claim that the United Order was similar to capitalism, and it simply was not, and Brigham Young was intentionally trying to move the Saints away from capitalism, but, according to Young, rich Saints had their hearts set more upon their property (in other words, they were good capitalists) than they did on the pursuit of righteousness.

        As far as your claim that Nibley was distinguishing between two different forms of capitalism in his remarks, I invite you to read the entire essay the quote was taken from and you will see that he was aiming his criticisms directly at the modern-day American economic system, and not some past and gone other type of capitalism, whatever that is.

  14. shematwater says:


    You are right that the original article was not about Brigham Young or Bruce McConkie. I never intended it to be.
    Also, I was not the one to bring Brigham Young into the conversation, though I did bring in McConkie.

    I will give this last statement to clarify: If we are going to define Socialism as any society in which people co-operate than I will concede that the United Order is a form of socialism. However, if we are going to use the actual dictionary definition of socialism that states that it is a society in which there is no private property I will make no such concession.
    When I speak of socialism it is this idea that I speak of. I do not speak solely of Marxism or any other individual form, but this idea that there is no private property, or that all things belong to the society as a whole. This is not the United Order and it is not what Brigham Young or any other leader of the church in this age or any other advocated.

    Speaking of Capitalism, if you are going to define it as an economic system based on competition than I will again concede that the United Order is not Capitalism. However, if you are going to use the dictionary definition of an economic system based in private property than I make no such concession.
    To me capitalism is simply this: an economic system in which I have the right to private property and the right to manage it as I see fit. It has nothing to do with competition or exploitation. It is simply that I am granted the right to use what I own how I want to achieve my own personal goals, as long as I do not interfere with the same right of others.

    Now, taking the dictionary definitions I see a greater similarity between the United Order and Capitalism than between the United Order and socialism. In the United Order we still have private property and are still free to pursue our own goals. We do not surrender all rights to property to this idea of communal property. However, we do co-operate with each other so that all men are able to fulfill their own goals and live their lives as they so choose (as long as it does not interfere with the rights of other).

    (Actual definitions taken from and are given here.
    Socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

    Capitalism: an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations.)


    I am not disregarding anything Brigham Young said. I was simply saying that if you are going to dismiss everything Bruce R. McConkie says because he got one thing wrong than logically you must also dismiss everything that Brigham Young said because he got one thing wrong.
    I did not begin this line of thinking as I think it is ridiculous. It was you who used this logic in an attempt to dismiss Brother McConkie’s comments, and I was just pointing out your lapse in logic.

    As I said, Brigham Young was against the form of Capitalism being practiced in his day, namely the “natural selection” theory. He was not against private property or private industry and corporation. He was against individuals exploiting others, which I am also against. But this is not synonymous with Capitalism.

    As to Nibley, I never said was distinguishing between forms of capitalism, I said that his comment showed the truth concerning what Brigham Young was talking about. Whether Nibley accurately portrayed this in the rest of the article doesn’t matter.

    • Joseph says:

      Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh Edition 2003 p. 1183:

      socialism: 1 any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods [note that this definition does not preclude individual stewardship of personal items, homes, etc. Also, government is only one possibility given for collective ownership]

      • shematwater says:

        This definition does preclude the private ownership of anything, because it encompasses the distribution of goods. Thus those in control would dictate what kind of house I could have and what personal items I could own. It also allows for those in control to redistribute what I have been given if they feel the need.

        If it was just the production of goods (which is bad enough) then I would concede that Private Property is still available. But as long as it includes the distribution of them Private Property cannot exist in its real sense.

    • tariq says:

      Again, let me repeat that whether or not Brigham Young was right or wrong about anything is irrelevant to what I was saying.

      The way dictionaries define “isms” and the way those “isms” actually operate in the real world are not always the same thing. Let’s move beyond these high-school understandings of capitalism and socialism, and look at things with a little bit more understanding of complexity and reality.

      Private property is not the defining characteristic of capitalism. There have been non-capitalist economic philosophies that respect private property. For example, the individualist anarchists of America’s Progressive Era (roughly the 1880s – the 1920s) such as Benjamin Tucker, Dyer D. Lum, Helena Born, and even, for a short time, Voltairine de Cleyre advocated a form of socialism that retained a concept of private property that had nothing to do with capitalism or profit mongery. They even referred to themselves as enemies of capitalism and considered individualist anarchism to be one of many forms of socialism.

      Capitalism is the the number one modern day system whereby the rich exploit the poor, exploit the environment, exploit animals, and exploit pretty much anything they can get their legal contracts on, plain and simple. It is not the only system whereby the rich can exploit the poor, and it isn’t the first, but it is the most effective in a modern techno-industrial society. It has nothing to do with freedom or democracy or Jesus or common decency. It has to do with making as much profit as possible regardless of the consequences.

      • shematwater says:

        I am good with leaving Brigham Young out of it.

        As to definitions, without a definition a word is meaningless as anyone can use it to mean anything they want and thus confuse the conversation and dodge any argument made against them. Definitions exist for a reason, and I will continue to use them as it is the only way to have an honest and fair discussion.

        If you don’t like the definitions I have provided please provide one of your own, but do not say that we should ignore them in favor of some vague abstract idea that can be easily applied to dozens of theories and movements.

        As to the anarchists, I know all about them, and you are right. But anarchy is not socialism. These men may have advocated a few socialist principals, but they did not advocate a socialist government. They can give any label they want to it, and so can you, but in doing so you make the term Socialism a useless phrase.
        What they advocated was a blending of anarchy (which they would have preferred) and socialism (because it was easier to get people to go along with it).

        Capitalism in and of itself has committed no acts of exploitation, just as no gun, in and of itself, has ever killed anything.

        This is the thing about capitalism. A man may own a small farm on which he has three cows. If he chooses he can sell one of his cows for a descent price, and after a little hard work have the money to by a Bull. He then breeds his last two cows with this new bull and he increases his livestock. He is then free to sell some of his cows or keep them for milk, etc.
        This is capitalism. This is what the economic system is. It, in and of itself, has nothing to do with exploitation, but with the freedom to use the resources you have (whether livestock or simple intelligence) to either remain as you are or try to improve your situation.

        When I take out a loan to go to school and get a degree so that I can get a better job I am participating in Capitalism.
        When a man buys a large pile of wood, then carves the pieces into sculptures and sells them he is participating in capitalism.
        When anyone voluntarily takes what they have and uses it to improve their situation in life they are participating in capitalism.

      • tariq says:


        Of course you are good with leaving Brigham Young out of it. His economic beliefs totally contradict your economic beliefs.

        Can you be more specific about what you are trying to say about anarchists? What you are saying makes little sense and it sounds like you don’t know what you are talking about. You know “all about” anarchists? You sound like you know very little about the history of anarchism. The early anarchists in the U.S., like Johann Most, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Lucy Parsons, Albert Parsons, and so on, used the words anarchism and communism interchangeably, and they considered anarchism to be the “no government” form of socialism. Anarchists organized labor unions, like the IWPA (International Working People’s Association), and the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), with the specific goal of combating capitalism. They despised capitalism just as much as they despised the state and were not simply pretending to be socialists so that more people would like them (You are the first person I’ve ever heard make such a ridiculous, uneducated claim). If you do not believe me, I have dozens of books I could recommend to you that will clear up some of your misunderstandings of the history of anarchism.

        When anyone voluntarily takes what they have and uses it to improve their situation in life, they are participating in capitalism? People have been taking what they have and using it to improve their situations in life since thousands of years before capitalism even existed, and people in non-capitalist societies still do that. Heck, chimpanzees do that. Are chimpanzees capitalists? Everyone does that, capitalist or not. I am not sure what your definition of capitalism is. If your definition is simply a system that respects the private property of the individual, then it is insufficient, as other economic systems have also done so. If your definition is a system in which people “take what they have and use it to improve their situations in life,” well, that is also insufficient and way too broad.

        I am more concerned with the way systems play out in reality than I am in the way dictionaries define them, so my criticisms are of the way capitalism operates in the real world, not just how it looks on paper.

      • shematwater says:

        First, my comments on capitalism are made with the understanding that it is an economic system. Therefore only those things that work within economics can be considered capitalism. As such your comment on chimpanzees really seems more an attempt to again confuse the issue.

        Yes, many government systems have people able to take what they have to improve their situation, but most proscribe in which way they can better their situation and many dictate what they can have in the first place. I am talking about an unrestricted use of my private property to do whatever I please with it as long as I do not hinder others rights to the same. Few nations (even ours for that matter) allow for this.
        However, for those governments that do allow for some of this kind of economy they have a limited capitalism (or a blend of socialism and capitalism). This is true, and something that I have always found rather humorous. People want to make capitalism this great evil, and yet almost every government and economic system has to allow at least some limited Capitalism or it collapses. To hide this fact they make people believe that capitalism requires some kind exploitation of others, when it doesn’t.
        Unless we are living directly under the laws of God there is no better system than Capitalism.

        Now, I am very serious about what I said concerning the Anarchist movement. The very idea of anarchism being socialism without government is a contradiction as Socialism depends on some form of central distribution which would then become the government. However, what the anarchist really meant was that they wanted all the supposed benefits of socialism while getting rid of the evils of government. They used the terms interchangeably because the term socialism, at the time, carried a certain positive thought with it, while anarchy didn’t.
        So, the anarchists did not want socialism, no matter how often they used the term. But they used the term to make what they wanted sound more appealing.

      • tariq says:

        My chimpanzee comment was only to show how broad and lacking your definition of capitalism is.

        You may think that calling anarchism a form of socialism is a contradiction, but the anarchists did not think so at all. Socialism does not necessarily depend on some form of central distribution. The anarchists advocated a form of decentralized socialism (libertarian socialism.) The fact that you are not aware of this most basic aspect of anarchism shows that you do not know enough to talk about anarchism. Most of the influential anarchists of the Progressive Age were socialists before they were anarchists. Johann Most was a member of the German parliament as a social democrat before he became radicalized and eventually ended up an anarchist. Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre were both socialists before learning about anarchism. Albert and Lucy Parsons were also socialists before they were anarchists, and the list could easily go on. Even Bakunin and Kropotkin, sometimes referred to as the “fathers of modern anarchism” were both socialists before they became anarchists; both of them were members of the First International which was heavily influenced by (Marx and Engels) before they left (or got expelled in the case of Bakunin) to go in more anti-authoritarian directions. Bakunin even translated much of Marx’s writings into Russian. What I am saying is, the anarchists were first and foremost anti-capitalists and their main reason for opposing the state was that, as far as they could tell, the modern industrialized state was nothing more than the teeth and claws of capitalism, existing to use deception, manipulation, and, when necessary (which was often), coercion, to protect the property of rich capitalists.

        But please, I invite you to show me some evidence that the anarchists didn’t really want socialism, and they were just using the term to make anarchism sound more appealing, because I have tons of primary source evidence to the contrary, and a short drive from my house to the Library of Congress, where I spent days doing research on anarchism, will take me to the Avrich Collection (donated by the anarchist historian Paul Avrich) which is full of even more primary and secondary source evidence that shows how uneducated everything you have said about anarchism is.

        Seeing as how you know very little about non-capitalist systems, it seems childish for you to claim that “there is no better system than Capitalism.” It’s like when people who have never left their little redneck hometown ever in their entire life say something like, “America is the greatest nation on earth!” Oh yeah? And how many other nations have you been to, BillyBob? What, you’ve never left the state of Alabama? Well, who cares! Please, continue to regale us with your political and geographical wisdom!

      • shematwater says:

        First, if my definition of capitalism is too broad than so is your definition of Socialism.
        Actually, I take that back. You have yet to give a concrete definition of socialism so I have no clue if it is too broad or too narrow or what it is.
        Now, the definition that was given of people working in co-operation with each other only precludes chimpanzees because it uses the term “person.” But no, I used the term person and you tried to include chimpanzees so I guess I can claim chimpanzees are socialists as well.

        Your tactics are not very original and are, as far as I can tell, fairly dishonest. You refuse to give an actual definition of the terms you use preferring, as you have said, to think of them in some abstract way that they work in real life.
        As I said before, without definitions to work from a word is useless, except in the use of dodges and sidesteps in an attempt to avoid a full on and reasonable discussion of the subject. Give me a definition of what you consider to be socialism and them we can talk.

        I have given a definition, and by the definition I have used the anarchists are not socialist, because by this definition socialism requires some form of central distribution center or government.
        What the anarchists (going by the definitions that I have given) really wanted was a peaceful anarchy in which people co-operated for mutual benefit. Is this similar to socialism. Yes. But it is not socialism as it has no central distribution.

        Now, I will stick by what I said for one simple reason: the meaning of the words support it (or at least the only concrete meanings that have been provided in this discussion).

        As to my knowledge of other systems of government, I know plenty. All one has to do is look around and it becomes obvious. No government based in socialism has ever succeeded (except maybe at a very local scale). All those that have tried it have begun to adopt more capitalist ideas into their systems because theirs aren’t working.
        When an earthquake strikes and one building falls while another remains intact I do not need to know the architectural design or what materials were used to know that the one had some flaw and the other didn’t. Simple fact that one remains standing and the other fell is enough evidence that the first is superior.

        In like manner, when I see in the news the reports of various types of government experiments collapsing and others re-enforcing themselves through capitalism, I don’t need to understand the inner workings of those governments to know that something was wrong with that system. On the other hand, when I see that, even in troubled times, the United States has usually held its own better than anyone else and weather the storms with less damage than other I can conclude that the system we have is better than the others.

      • tariq says:

        I know that you have given definitions of both socialism and capitalism. I am simply pointing out that your definitions are wrong, just as everything you claimed about anarchism is not supported by any evidence. You might not believe that the anarchists were socialists, but they most certainly did consider themselves socialists to the core.

        As far as the U.S. is concerned: First of all, I do not know what standard you use to judge the “greatness” of countries and systems, but as far as levels of education, infant mortality rates, percentage of the population with access to decent healthcare, homeless rates, nutrition, numbers of people in prison, crime rates, economic equality, employment rates — you know, actual measurable indicators of how well a country is doing — there are other countries that have much better numbers than the U.S., so stop being so prideful about how great you are.

        Secondly, you claim that governments have to reinforce themselves with at least a little bit of capitalism in order to stay afloat, but the opposite is the case with the United States. The U.S. began as a free market (for property owning white males), but over time, it had to reinforce itself with all kinds of social programs in order to take the heat out of more radically left movements. The New Deal, for example, was really just a way of throwing just enough crumbs to the working class to keep them from turning to more radical solutions as capitalism failed them, because giving big business a free pass to do whatever they want to just doesn’t work in the real world.

        My definition of socialism? Loosely, I would define it as an economic system in which the means of production and the fruits of labor are held in common among the members of communities and/or societies on an egalitarian basis, and needs are met through cooperation, not competition. The Marxist way to do this was through a large, centralized state that could enforce this system with its military and police force when necessary. The anarchists believed the Marxist system was a threat to individuality and freedom, and they proposed doing it through a decentralized network of free federations linked on a basis of mutual aid, but both Marxists and Anarchists wanted to achieve such a society, and in the Progressive Age, there was a lot of overlap and cooperation between anarchists and marxists. The Christian way (including the early Mormon way) of making such a society operate was through the Church’s centralized bureaucracy, which was not supposed to have power to coerce any individual, but it still was a central decision making body that controlled the distribution of life’s necessities.

        Back to the original point of the argument; you were trying to say that the United Order was similar to capitalism, which is just ridiculous even at face value.

      • shematwater says:


        My definition is not wrong, it is just not the one you use. There is a difference here.

        Thank you for providing a definition. This I can agree is what the Anarchists wanted, and all the evidence does support this. Fine. I would only argue one thing: Since you want to focus on real world applications of the ideas, in this sense anarchists are not the same as socialist, as their tactics are vastly different. In theory they are, but not in practice.

        However, I would also say that this carries at least some elements of Capitalism, just on a community scale instead of an individual scale.
        I was talking to a professor of American History today and he gave me a better definition for Capitalism and Socialism.
        Capitalism is a system in which Wealth is generated. Socialism is a system in which wealth is distributed.
        So, any society that increases their wealth is capitalist, and any society that works to distribute that wealth is socialist.
        I think it works out much better this way.

        So, with your basic definition I would agree that the United Order can be considered socialism.
        I would then ask this: “How would you want to implement this?”
        Now, I don’t think that I would really want to discuss this. The reason I ask is because without a way to implement the theory then the theory is useless.

        As to judging the greatness of a country, I always liked the test “you can judge the greatness of a country by the number of people who want to get in compared to the number of people who want to get out.”
        All the other things you mention I don’t think are accurate measures of the greatness of a country. The simple fact is that more people are wanting to move into the United States than are wanting to move out, and this ratio is greater for the United States than any other country (one fifth of all immigrants come to the United States). If it was not a great nation then people would not want to come here.

  15. Syd says:

    “And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the Heavenly gift.” (4 Ne 1:3)

    This is true Socialism based on eternal principles. It requires true Christ like Charity. The ability to sacrifice for a stranger so all can have a better life.

    Do we love our neighbor as much as we love our self? I’ve known people who are not LDS that lived this kind of Christian lifestyle. Our leaders would laugh at them today. They are spiritual giants who sacrificed all their lives for a better world.

    Modern Capitalism is the established Financial Monarchy that runs America and has corrupted her soul and played the harlot with the Kings of the Earth.

    Reading this conversation has given me hope. Some young people in the church are smarter than their parents. Keep working with the Spirit and teach your parents a better way.

    • shematwater says:

      It is those smart young people that will cause the downfall of the government and constitution that God himself set up. Isn’t it wonderful how brilliant we have become?

      • tariq says:

        Really, Shem? “The government and constitution that God himself set up.”?! So, when God set up the constitution, why did he ensure that the constitution protected the institution of slavery? What are you, like ten years old? Grow up, man. Anyhow, I don’t think you have to worry about any young people causing the downfall of the U.S. government or constitution. You and your teabagger buddies have all the guns, so take a chill pill, dude.

      • J. Madson says:

        Tariq, dont you know God personally wrote the commerce clause. He also really likes white male land owners.

      • shematwater says:


        D&C 101: 80 “And for this purpose have I ESTABLISHED THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS LAND by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”

        God established the Constitution through wise men. Slavery was protected by the constitution because without such a clause the constitution would never have been ratified. The men who drafted it as well as God knew this. As it says, they were wise men.
        However, they provided a means by which slavery could, at some future date, be abolished, which did happen.

        It is very difficult to conceive anyone who is a member of the church not understanding this fundamental idea as it is taught plainly in the Doctrine and Covenants and has been reaffirmed by many of the leaders since it was first revealed. Of course, for those who feel the need to use personal attacks and insults to make their arguments more forceful it is not surprising that they would lack such an understanding.


        God personally inspired the men who drafted and ratified the Constitution to add every clause that it contains. Every clause is in there for a reason, and just because you do not understand this does not change it’s truth.

      • tariq says:

        So what you are saying, Shem, is that you think it is good and righteous and divinely inspired that black people were forced to be deprived of all liberty, decency, and dignity? If that is what you really believe, then don’t try to pretend that you care about freedom or that your tea party isn’t racist. If God is all powerful, then he doesn’t have to include evil protections in his constitution just to get the racist, slave-driving trash in South Carolina on board. I think it is more likely that men, not God, came up with the idea of protecting the institution of slavery. I think the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison had alot more divine inspiration when he called the slavery-upholding constitution a “covenant with hell and an agreement with death,” than any Church leader ever had on the subject.

      • J. Madson says:

        “God personally inspired the men who drafted and ratified the Constitution to add every clause that it contains. Every clause is in there for a reason, and just because you do not understand this does not change it’s truth.”

        lmao, too rich. thanks for the laugh. On a serious note though, read the constitutional conventions transcripts someday, its may not be as noble and inspired as you think. remember it took a major pushback from anti-federalists to get the bill of rights and guarantee some basic freedoms that many of the aristocrats werent too keen on giving the regular guy. Its taken alot of progress to get this country to where it is today and I for one am thankful my children are growing up now rather than under the racists, misogynistic, and aristocratic constitution of yore.

      • shematwater says:

        TARIQ and MADSON

        Please, let us try to use our God given intelligence at least when we are reading the scriptures. I find it very difficult to believe that either of you are members of the LDS church, which leads me to wonder why you are arguing about the Book of Mormon in the first place.

        No, I do not believe in the slavery of an entire race, but yes, I do believe that this protection was divinely inspired. It was just as divinely inspired as the provisions for slavery that exist in the Law of Moses.
        Please use a little more sense than to be throwing around the “all powerful” argument. It is just silly.

        Now, I never once said that God wanted the slavery clause in the constitution. If you actually read my words I said that in order for this country to be formed and create the society in which God could restore the church and begin to gather his people he knew that such a clause was necessary, and he was willing to allow it sop that his plans could continue.
        There was a great push to abolish slavery at the time the constitution was drafted. There was a similar push earlier at the time of the Declaration of Independence. Wise men, who were able to look beyond their own narrow view of morality and see the big picture, were inspired to accept that such was not possible, but to draft a constitution in which such would be possible when the people were willing to accept it.

        Say what you will, but Joseph Smith has declared that the constitution was inspired by God and written by men specifically called to that purpose. To deny this is to deny the words of God. It is as simple as that.

      • tariq says:

        Ok, Shem, I understand. The leader said X, therefore we all should just shut up and accept it without giving it any thought whatsoever and without exercising our minds in any way whatsoever. USA! USA! USA!

      • NS says:

        Here’s how I interpret D&C 101:80. Yes, God set up the constitution, but did so in establishing a preparatory government. It advanced free and just society a great deal. The new government protected religious freedoms, among other things. I believe it was in place just before Joseph Smith’s birth to enable the rise of the church. But clearly the constitution was an imperfect document, and despite its protections, the church suffered much persecution.

        God often does preparatory work. We know he inspired the great reformers, who accomplished a divine work without actually bringing about the full restoration. And the thing is, as Latter-day Saints, we would never run around proclaiming a need to return to the ideals of Lutheranism. The gospel has been restored, and there is something better!

        Obviously the US Constitution was not the be-all end-all document on government, or why would we look forward to a day when “Christ will reign personally on the earth”? Surely that does not mean that Christ will win the presidential election, and that his party will also control congress! When Christ comes, whatever governments exist will be done away with.

        In sum, I admire and appreciate the constitution and the founding fathers, but that does not prevent me from pushing toward something better.

        (As a side note, this is my first post on this blog. I’ve been reading it from time to time for a while.)

      • shematwater says:


        When it comes to plain scripture, yes. What God decrees is truth and no amount of reasoning will change this fact.
        God, through his prophet and seer, has declared that the constitution of this nation was divinely inspired. He does not say that certain portions were divinely inspired, but that the document as a whole was so inspired.
        So, to reason that certain parts were not inspired on the basis that you think they were wrong is just silly and truly dangerous.
        How many other things can we reason in our minds as not being inspired? What about Plural Marriage? What about the many times in the Bible that Israel was commanded to destroy entire nations? What else does not agree with our concept of good that we will just reason away as “God would not do that?”
        I, for one, will not reason away the word of God simply because there are aspects that make me uncomfortable. No, I will use my reason not to dismiss his word, but to understand it and why it was given.
        To go back to the topic; God has declared the United States Constitution to be divinely inspired for a specific purpose. Let us not try to reason our way out of accepting this as truth. Let us instead try to reason our way to an understanding of why God would permit the various clauses and articles that are contained in it.

    • tariq says:

      OK, Shem. So, just to be clear; you, the tea partier who gets angry about people like me calling the tea party racist, believe that the protection of the practice of enslaving Black people was inspired by God. Got it. I don’t know for sure, but based on other things you’ve said, you probably also don’t think there was anything racist about the Church’s pre-1978 ban on black men holding the priesthood; and then you act shocked and appalled that anyone would dare associate racism with guys like you.

      • shematwater says:


        I am shocked that someone who seems to claim such knowledge regarding the gospel as to know that exactly what the United Order is does not understand the very basics of the religion and the principle of Faith.

        I really don’t care what you associate with racism, as long as you actually understand the thing that you are associating it with. You obviously don’t, as you are unable to see past the surface.

        I have, quite honestly, always been shocked by people who claim to be faithful saints and then turn and deny the doctrines that Joseph Smith himself taught practiced. It is just like the Pharisees claiming to faithfully follow the Law of Moses while denying the very teaches of the man.

        As I said before, I really don’t care what your personal feelings on the subject are (or any subject). God has declared his truth and it is dangerous to reject it, no matter how much we may dislike it.

      • shematwater says:

        Oh, and another note: I never once said that the provisions for slavery were not racist. I think they were. But this does not change the fact that they were necessary to the formation of this nation and thus sanctioned by God, just as the same things were in the Law of Moses.

      • tariq says:

        Got it, Shem. Racism is sanctioned by God. Thanks for the Sunday School lesson.

      • shematwater says:


        You don’t get it, and I am worried you never will.

      • tariq says:

        No, I get it quite clearly. You are saying that you are not racist, God is, and you are just following God’s will, and anyone who thinks differently than you isn’t a true Latter-day Saint, and is unfaithful, and if they really were true Mormons, then they’d be standing next to you and all your tea-bagger buddies holding sloppy misspelled signs equating Obama with Hitler, demonizing immigrants, and stereotyping Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims, and defending capitalist exploitation, greed, and environmental destruction, because that is what God wants them to do.

      • shematwater says:

        And you have just proved that you don’t get it. Not only do you not get it, but I doubt you want to.

        Nothing you have said is truly accurate to me or to the Tea Party, but I don’t see you ever understanding this.

        I am sorry, and I am done.

      • tariq says:

        Well, you and the tea party sure aren’t talking or acting in a way that shows anything I’ve said is inaccurate. When you guys stop bashing immigrants, demonizing Muslims, defending rich exploiters, worshipping guns, comparing Obama to Hitler, supporting unjust wars, and saying things like, racism is sanctioned by God, then I’ll believe that what I have said about you is inaccurate.

      • shematwater says:

        No you won’t, but that is fine.

        Just a note: I am not against immigrants, only illegal (thus criminal) immagrants.
        I have no problem with the Muslim faith or any of its members who are peaceful; but do have a problem with those who use it to justify terrorism, murder, and other evils.
        I have no tolleration for the willful exploitation of anyone; but I do believe every person has the right to do with their own property what they will (like the small business owner).
        I do not worship guns. I do not own a gun, nor am I likely too as I am not comfortable around guns; But I do believe that I have the right to own one if I should choose to, as do all other citizens of this country.
        I do not believe that racist was inspired by God, but I do believe that compromises that are contained in the Constitution of this nation were inspired by God to ensure its ratification and the formation of this country.

        Now, will any of this mean anything to you. I highly doubt it. From everything you have said it seems to me that you are the one who is angry, and that you want to be so, and so you will ignore everything I am saying in order to maintain your anger. It doesn’t effect me, but I can’t help feeling a little sorry.

  16. glv says:

    The principle argument we usually hear from conservative/libertarian critics of socialism or even our very limited “welfare state” is an emphasis on agency or freedom over coercion. The idea that, sure, we should voluntarily give all our material wealth to the poor but if government forces us to do it that is evil.

    The simple solution I see is to voluntarily (using our agency or freedom) to participate in government of the people that aids in redistribution of wealth by the will of the majority. Yeah, I’m no great intellectual, but that sounds like democratic socialism to me. And I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

    I mean, the way I understand the City of Enoch is that people entered into it voluntarily and they were of one heart. But they must have had some kind of organization (at least a ward council or something) which would be “government.” And they must have used a process to get to that state which maybe looked something like our Constitution except for the interpretations that freeze it in the 18th Century when it was only for white men with property (and some of that property was other human beings).

    • Joseph says:


      I agree with this. I do view socialist democracy as imperfect, but it does seem to be more functional than what the U.S. is trying to do right now. And it does not impinge on the moral agency we were sent here to be tested with. I just haven’t read in the scriptures where being able to make as much money as I can get away with is somehow essential to my eternal progress.

      Socialist Democracy is not ideal, and it still leaves a government bureaucracy that is not accountable enough to the people, but socialist democracies do seem to be more transparent and actually allow more freedoms to individuals than currently exist in the U.S.

  17. glv says:

    Tariq & Shem-
    With all due respect and trying not to be overly simplistic, isn’t it just that while God may ALLOW something it doesn’t means he APPROVES of it. He seems to leave an awful lot to us to figure out on our own to do good in the world and get rid of evil where we appropriately can however long the process may take.

    I’ve written a bunch on my blog about the US Constitution, the distorted modern LDS views of it and the relation to slavery and civil rights. And how we continue to fail to live up to its principles in many regards.

    I agree with the view that the scriptures say that the purpose of the Constitution was to get rid of bondage (slavery) in whatever form. And while it took some time, the Constitution was inspired to give us some ideals and processes to get there even though we it took a horrific civil war (also perfectly prophesied by Bro. Joseph D&C 87)

    Thanks. And good luck!

    • shematwater says:

      You got my point exactly, and may have done a better job of explaining it than I could have. Thank you.

      I will say only one thing in regards to Democratic Socialism and the United Order (City of Enoch).
      The United Order is governed by the Church through the inspiration of God. This government of the Church, as instructed by God, opperates on the Principle of Common Consent.
      Now, as I understand it, this Law dictates that every member consent, not only a majority. As such, rule by majority is not the same as the United Order.

      As to my personal objections, it is about freedom. We live in a nation that is not only rule by majority, but is also protection of minority. I don’t care what anyone else says or wants, I have the right to do with my money what I choose. The government is not there to dictate my actions (regardless if it be a single dictator or the vote of the majority) but to protect my rights.
      A nation that is ruled by the majority is still a dictatorship if it does not gauruntee the rights of the minority.

      • tariq says:

        By your definition, the U.S. government during the days of the Founding Fathers, was a dictatorship, because it did not guarantee the rights of certain minorities, such as Native Americans, Black people, and women. The government still doesn’t protect the rights of certain minorities, like LGBTQ people and undocumented immigrants, among others. Finally, according to the U.S. government, you do not have the right to do whatever you choose with your money. There are plenty of ways you could spend your money that are illegal. The U.S. government, or any government for that matter, has nothing to do with protecting freedom or anything like that. It has to do with social control and protecting the property and profit of the privileged. Enough with the patriotic nonsense. Be real about things.

      • shematwater says:

        I will admit that in the beginning the United States was a little more dictatory than it is now, but in some ways this was necessary to the survival of the nation.
        Again, the Constitution was not drafted to give all people all rights as soon as it was ratified. What is was drafted to do was to allow society (the people, or majority) to gradually move into this. People were not ready for this broad freedom (as the French Revolution demonstrated) and the founders knew this. So they created a government that started controling, but would slowly loose control as the people became more able to govern themselves. Very similar to parents putting more control on an infant, and then slowly loosening the strings until the child is able to act independently.

        Now, in the modern day there is no minority that is not given equal rights as every body else.
        Despite all you want to believe, homosexuals are not an actual minority, any more than say, actors are. It is a life choice, just like being a Vegetarian, and thus has no baring on rights.
        Also, your “undocumented immagrants” are criminals who are here illegally and thus are in violation of the law. Now, if you want to give them all the rights of real citizens then you might as well to the same for all other criminals (another minority I guess).

        Now, the government does restrict certain activity in regards to money, and that is fine. But restricting certain activities is far different that dictating activities. All things must be regulated or there is not freedom. My right to use my money how I want cannot be used to prevent others from exercising their freedoms. It is in this way that our freedoms are protected by government, which is the purpose of the Constitution.

        Now, you can look through whatever shaded lenses you want when evaluating this nation. I can see clearly, and while these things may be happening, that was not the intention of the Founders or the purpose of the government they created, which is why there is such a push to return to the original model.

      • tariq says:

        Homosexuality isn’t a choice any more than heterosexuality is a choice. Everything else you have said is equally as bigoted, ridiculous, and uneducated as your views on homosexuality.

        So, the nation wouldn’t have been able to survive if white supremacists weren’t allowed to own black people as property? If that is the case, then the nation isn’t worth much.

        The nation did not move past things like slavery and segregation simply by following the path laid out by the constitution. Many changes came about because people organized and fought outside of the official channels, because the official channels were designed to keep certain people from having a say. It is interesting, though, that you believe that citizens are like children and the government is like a wise parent, lovingly helping the child grow up right. Most major social progress has been pioneered by people who, in your view, must have been very ill-mannered, disobedient children who scoffed at their parent’s authority.

      • tariq says:

        I do get what you are saying, Shem. I just don’t think that you get what you are saying. Let me sum it up for you:

        When it comes to immigrants, whether or not they have some pieces of paper from the State makes the difference between whether you think they deserve to be treated in a Christ-like way or not.

        You hate LGBTQ people and believe they are undeserving of basic rights.

        You believe God inspired men to protect the institution of slavery, but that is not because you or God are racist; no, it is because God is unable to achieve His divine purposes without compromising with the Devil.

        And Capitalism, the exploitation of the poor by the rich, is similar to the United Order.

        Oh, and even though enslaved black people were wrong to take up arms and participate in slave uprisings, you and your tea party buddies are totally justified in taking up arms when Obama wants to give federal money to NPR or raise taxes on the rich by 2%! What a grave injustice NPR is inflicting on you, and oh, the horrors the rich must endure under a black president! Ya’ll better git yer guns and make misspelled signs and take to the streets!

      • mormongandhi says:

        Shematwater said: “It is a life choice, just like being a Vegetarian, and thus has no baring on rights”.

        Your conceptualization of rights is dangerously narrow. The reason why many are vegetarians is actually from a rights rationale, so that they should not infringe on the rights of others (including the rights of non-human animals). So Vegetarians/Vegans are VERY rights-conscious! The issue of rights is not whether or not anybody is a minority or not, but whether their liberty or freedom to make certain choices in life are limited by those who have power to deny them those freedoms – often a minority: meateaters are often unaware that they are infringing on the rights of animals, and rich people are often unaware that their “way of life” is infringing on the equal rights of the poor majority. And the richer one gets, the more meat one tends to eat.

        at you will find one of many links between rights and vegetarianism: The plight of animals – be it farm animals, companion animals, marine or wild life animals – is one of the foremost reasons why many people around the world choose to eat a vegetarian diet, or vegan diet. As people who care about the animals of the earth, we believe that, like human animals, they have rights and deserve to have their best interests taken into consideration, regardless of their usefulness to humans.

        Now, LGBT rights were formulated not because we, as homosexuals, happen to be a sexual minority, but because those who are non-LGBT people make our lives more difficult by not recognizing our relationships as equal to their own relationships and thus restrict our freedoms in comparison to their own. It is not long ago that homosexuality was considered an illness (something not of my choosing) – and now the same people tell me it is a life choice? Make up your minds, as I have made up mine both when it comes to the rights of animals and to my rights as a gay person in a married relationship.

        So, when it comes to rights, one of the differences between LGBT and Vegetarians is probably that one group can speak up for the equality of their relationships being recognized, while the other group is concerned to speak up for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves and live in such a way that they will reduce the suffering caused to animals. We are in many ways interconnected. Believing that we live in a world that is already fair and just is fairly just bogus. The Kingdom of God is still being built – and when completed it will be full of vegans and gays. I guess that unprejudiced straight people will still be around, and I like to believe that by then meat-eating will definitely be out.

      • shematwater says:


        You are blind to everything I say. You are so hung up on discrimination that it has become all you can see.

        Personally, I am not going to get into an argument over any particular thing. I cannot believe that you are a member of the LDS church as almost everything you have said is so completely opposed to its doctrine.

        However, I will say a few words to clarify my meaning, and try not to twist my words as you are so fond of doing.

        You said: When it comes to immigrants, whether or not they have some pieces of paper from the State makes the difference between whether you think they deserve to be treated in a Christ-like way or not.

        This is not even close. All people should be treated in a Christ-like way, but this does not include excusing the breaking of the law. What it does mean is that when they are being deported they be treated in all kindness, and if they return to come to this country in the legal manner their previous infractions do not hinder them.

        You said: You hate LGBTQ people and believe they are undeserving of basic rights.

        Again, your own hatred is clouding your understanding. I do not hate anyone, including homosexuals. I do not blieve that they should be denied any rights that anyone else has.

        You said: You believe God inspired men to protect the institution of slavery, but that is not because you or God are racist; no, it is because God is unable to achieve His divine purposes without compromising with the Devil.

        To clarify yet again; God is unable to remove the agency of man. God cannot make people do what he wants, and so he relies on the wise men whom he has chosen, which he knows will do what he wants. God inspired a compromise because he could not force those who had slaves to drop the practice altogether, but he could get them to agree to a few points that would eventually lead to its removal.

        You also said: And Capitalism, the exploitation of the poor by the rich, is similar to the United Order.

        Now, I have to make a small complaint. You yelled at me for not using your definition of socialism (even when you had not actually provided one) but are unwilling to allow me a definition of capitalism (even though I have provided two). The hypocracy of it all.
        Now, I do not believe that any form of exploitation exists in the United Order, and I never once even hinted at this idea. What I do believe is that in the United Order wealth will be generated, and all people will be equally engaged in generating it. As Capitalism is the generation of wealth than United Order does use capitalism.

        Now, your last quote I am not going to give again, even though it is the best example of your own hatred and bigotry. However, I will say this.
        I am not in favor of anyone taking up arms, and if you were a member of the church you would know that neither was Joseph Smith (he actually told the church not to encourage such slave up risings and such was immoral). Nor do I think that the majority of people are wanting armed uprisings against the current president. We can vote him out next year and most people are content with this.

        What I find interesting is that you praise blacks and other groups for acting outside the official channels (even though they weren’t in general) but condemn the Tea Party for it. Just more evidence of your own hypocracy and bigotry.

        So, let me sum up your thoughts and feelings.

        Anyone who opposes Obama is a racist, no matter what the reason.
        Anyone who want to defend their rights as spelled out in the constitution are violent, guntoting traitors.
        While it is fine for blacks and other minorities to rise up against injustice it is not okay for whites or the majority to do so, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a bigotted idiot.
        Anyone who believes in a free market system is seeking to exploit others and is thus evil and black at heart.

        Actually, we can sum it up even faster: Anyone who disagrees with you is an uneducated, bigotted idiot.
        Sounds about right.

      • tariq says:

        So, you believe you must kindly deport immigrants and kindly break up their families and kindly steal parents away from children. OK, sure. I suppose the Nazis would have been Christlike if they kindly rounded people up to throw them into concentration camps.

        So, you believe that LGBTQ couples should not be banned from adopting children or marrying based on their sexuality or gender? If so, good, but I doubt you really believe that. Correct me if I am wrong.

        The Tea Party is not acting outside of the official channels. You run candidates for office and are funded by establishment billionaires like the Koch brothers. You are supported by an establishment media giant, and generally play by the rules. I do not criticize the tea baggers for working outside of the system, because they are not outside of the system at all. I criticize the tea party for being backwards and racist, among other things.

        I never said anyone who opposed Obama is racist. I oppose Obama. Most anarchists, socialists, and progressives see Obama as nothing more than another regular politician who is just as beholden to big business and war interests as any other politician. The tea party isn’t racist for opposing Obama. It is racist because it hates people of color. It opposes Obama for all the wrong reasons, most of which are made up nonsense, like that he is a socialist (I wish he really were a socialist), or that he wasn’t really born in the U.S., or he wants to take away BillyBob’s gun collection, or because he is black and has a scary, foreign sounding name, or he doesn’t hate Muslims enough. You think that the miniscule amount of tax dollars going to welfare, or NPR, or schools, or libraries, somehow oppresses you, but you ignore the massive amounts of tax dollars going to war, weapons contractors, big business, the drug war, and the police state; things that actually lead to real oppression.

        Anyone who thinks capitalism is free or is a market is deluded. I would love a free market, but instead I’ve got this rotten capitalism.

        Anyone who disagrees with me is an uneducated bigoted idiot? No, there are people who disagree with me on certain issues who I respect alot. There are even people who contribute to the Mormon Worker who don’t think about things the way I do, but I still think they are good, intelligent, and worth listening to, and I learn from them. I call you a bigot because you say bigoted things, like that LGBTQ people are just choosing to be that way. As if we are all tempted to be gay but only those wicked heathens give in to the temptation, thereby making themselves unworthy of rights, like getting married or adopting children or walking down the street without being harassed or assaulted by thick-necked “real Americans”. Or that God called wise men to compromise with the devil and allow people to be enslaved so that we could have a free country(!?).

        You may think that what I say opposes Church doctrine, and I don’t know, maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong; but Church doctrine/policy and the Gospel are not always the same thing. Plus, there are plenty of active, faithful, strong LDS members who I have associated with who don’t think about things the way you do at all. There is more diversity of thought within the Church than you are aware of, and that is a good thing.

    • Joseph says:

      Glv and Shem,

      I agree that allowing and approving are not the same thing. More fundamentally, though, I also believe that inspiring and “writing every word” are also different. Something might be “divinely inspired,” but that doesn’t make it perfect. Viewing the U.S. Constitution as inspired does not require me to accept it as infallible and unalterable scripture. It means that, like the Bible, some things are good, some things are not so good, and some things are just bad.

      What would have happened if, when told to join no churches, Joseph Smith had responded, “Well, that doesn’t fit into what I had expected. If no churches are true, then what is true? I can’t deal with that. I’ll just take the falsehoods in the various churches and try to reason out why God would allow those falsehoods to be there.”

      Again, inspired does not mean infallible.

      • shematwater says:

        Inspired does not mean infalible, that is true. But I never claimed the Constitution to be perfect, only that it was inspired.

        Now, I will agree that the exact compromises in the Constitution may not be inspired, but the fact that they are there was inspired, and i will hold to this. I know enough about history to know that without them the constitution would not have been ratified and this nation never would have existed.

  18. shematwater says:


    It isn’t fun when people twist your words, is it?

    Now, I am done. Anyone who claims to be LDS and then says that the doctrine of the Church is not the gospel is a hypocrate, and I have no time them.

    And yes, I know all about the “diversity” of thought in the church, and it breaks my heart. Those of this diviersity have only divided themselves from God and by doing such they have put themselves in grave danger.

    I pray that those who seek such diverisity will be guided back to the unity of the Faith that will enable them to be one with God.

    This is my last post.

    • tariq says:

      You don’t speak for God, Shem. It is an idiotically bold statement to say that those who think differently from you politically, socially, and economically have “divided themselves from God.” A little humility would do you some good, and yes, I know it would do me some good as well.

  19. mormongandhi says:

    Unity in diversity or diverging uniformity? It is rather dangerous to believe that the latter is what God intended with his colorful, sublime and diverse creation! Capitalism has on the other hand contributed to a uniformity that is both sickly and contrary to God’s intent. To be one with God does not mean to have poverty of culture or lack of diversity. For all the free agency we were given, I am convinced that God would encourage some degree of free-thinking as well. The Gospel is not a straight-jacket (no pun intended), but much more like Joseph’s amazing technicolor dreamcoat! Dare to be different… I sure had to, when I grew up Mormon in a non-LDS context. And grateful am I for that.

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