August 16, 2012 by gomw
Over 2000 years ago, King Benjamin, knowing he was about to die, conferred the Kingdom on his son Mosiah and gathered the people together to say goodbye and impart his wisdom on how to gain eternal salvation.
Today, for the first time in our history, a Mormon, a follower of King Benjamin is running for President of the United States. Mitt Romney is supported nearly unanimously by his fellow Mormons. As the potential leader of the world, one who would have far more power, in secular terms, than King Benjamin, he is delivering a totally different message.
This is how King Benjamin opened his remarks to his people reminding them that he had spent is life in their service and not for riches. He told them that he had labored with his hands so as not to be a burden on them by taxes. He added that nothing should come upon them which was grievous to be born. Many Mormons believe this meant that there should be no taxes but to me it means excessive taxation and excessive business profits.
Romney, on the other hand, has never worked a day with his own hands. Instead, he has made his fortune exploiting those who do work with their own hands. As a venture capitalist, he has profited in leveraged buyouts and cutting costs by reducing wages and benefits of employees. Romney and his company made over $100 million, a 2000% return from a company that was driven into bankruptcy even after wages and benefits of employees were slashed.
As King Benjamin was living in austerity during his reign, Romney would begin his having lived in opulence which is almost repugnant. (Thorstein Veblen referred to it as conspicuous consumption). He did this as millions in the United States lived in poverty and he avoided taxes by nestling is money in foreign banks to avoid paying taxes to support the poor or the wars he approved; and used deductions like $70,000 to train a horse to prance. Further, to advance his chances to be “king” he allies himself with a man, Paul Ryan, whose places the philosophy of an atheist super capitalist over the teaching of Christ.
King Benjamin made it clear that we are expected to take care of the poor – all of them. Warning them that if they did not do this and withheld support for them because we consider them to deserve their fate we have no place in the kingdom of heaven.
Romney, on the other hand, is unconcerned with the plight of the poor. He has chosen a man as his running mate, a man who would be assistant King, who is at least as deaf to the plea of the poor. Their plan for tax structure would distribute even more of the wealth of the nation into the hands of the rich. Compare their plan with the admonishment of King Benjamin 2000 years ago. Nothing has changed in the requirement for salvation but in our society today the darwinistic “survival of the fittest” capitalist system greed and disdain for the poor has not only become acceptable, it has become revered.
Turn again to Mosiah 4 verses 21-26:
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.
25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
How does this accommodate taking your money out of the country to avoid paying taxes? And why would good Mormons support him?
In verse 26 above, King Benjamin tells us to visit the sick and administer to their relief, both spiritually and temporally. Mitt Romney would abolish the program that administers to the relief of the sick without a plan that would replace it – this in spite of the fact that he was responsible for virtually the same plan in the state of which he was governor!
King Benjamin admonishes us in Mosiah 4: 15 to teach our children to be truthful. Romney has been anything but truthful in his public appearance and announcements. The most recent and perhaps the most damning is his claim, which his continues to make even after being shown to be false, is that Obama took $716 billion dollars from Medicare services to finance Obamacare. Those Medicare savings – achieved through reduced provider reimbursements and curbed waste, fraud and abuse, not benefit cuts – appear in the House Republicans’ FY 2013 budget, which Ryan authored. Of course Obama, as do most, politicians exaggerate or even lie, but this is not about Obama. He does not follow King Benjamin or anything else in the Book of Mormon and so far, this falsehood sets a new low for this year’s election.
In Mark 10:21, a young man who was faithful in all other ways was told by Jesus: One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mitt Romney does not have to give everything he has to the poor, but he should not use his powers as president to take from the poor either.
This is not a discourse on economics or Medicare, it is a query on something that bothers and bewilders me. Why do Mormons so enthusiastically support a man who seems to be antithetical to King Benjamin? Neither do I to judge Brother Romney’s qualifications to enter the Celestial Kingdom – I am not sure of my own!
But I would remind Mitt of a song we learned in Primary:
Do what is right; the day-dawn is breaking,
Hailing a future of freedom and light.
Angels above us are silent notes taking
Of ev’ry action; then do what is right!