Don’t Read the Salon for Mormon Doctrine

by

The Salon hopelessly tries to attack Mitt Romney based on LDS doctrine. (link)

They fail, hopelessly.

First, the full context of Samuel the Lamanite. See http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/hel/13.21?lang=eng#20

Behold ye, the people of this great city, and hearken unto my words; yea, hearken unto the words which the Lord saith; for behold, he saith that ye are cursed because of your riches, and also are your riches cursed because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you.

Even a casual reading of this passage says why they are cursed: they set their heart on their riches. In the modern LDS church, a poor person can sin in this way as much as a rich person. Paying your 10% and “laboring in the vineyard” religiously is a good way to keep your perspective of things. Mormons, including Mitt Romney, likely spend a great deal of time actually working with their hands and time to help people in need. Just yesterday I visited two people who needed my help, but not in a money way.

The Salon article continues:

In 6 BC, as the story goes, somewhere on the American continent, the inhabitants of this mythic city had grown decadent. There were extreme class divisions. Politicians were corrupt. The government disregarded the sick and poor.

The disregarding of the sick and poor is not what you may first think. The Nephite government never, ever gave even a tiny amount of assistance to the poor. The rich were called to help the poor, and the church might have helped coordinate that. But the government was condemned for giving preference to the rich because of their riches, and ignoring the poor and the sick in their legal needs. The Law of Moses was the law of the Nephite government, and there were specific condemnations for judges who refused to hear the case of the sick, the poor, and the widows.

God had called Samuel to essentially Occupy Zarahemla, to stand up and speak out against corporate greed and wealth accumulation.

This is plain silly. God called Samuel to deliver a message, and that was all. There were no corporations recorded in the Nephite country. They lived the Law of Moses and the Law of Moses doesn’t have any provisions for incorporation. The Occupy Movement is nothing like what Samuel the Lamanite did, not even a little bit. Yes, he spoke against people who put their hearts on their riches, but he didn’t assault their police or poop in their parks.

The mention of “environmental upheavals” seems to bring in the topic of Global Warming into the debate. The Nephites were a superstitious people by our standard. They believed it was God that caused the stars and the storms and the earthquakes and disasters. In fact, it was the lack of superstition by the time of Jesus’ death that condemned many Nephites to die. They had grown so accustomed to seeing the prophecies of God fulfilled word-for-word that they came to believe that there was no power of prophecy at all. This does remind you of this day, but not the LDS church.

It’s an ontological dilemma facing every millionaire Mormon.

Mormon doctrine is entirely clear on this matter. There is no dilemma. We work as hard as we can, make as much money as we want to, without neglecting our family, church, and civic duties. What we earn is ours to do with as we please, beyond the 10% of tithing. We are asked to donate generously to the Fast Offering fund, and we are asked to do good in our communities. In today’s economic climate, doing good is as simple as depositing your money in a bank, or buying stock or investing in startups. This money goes to help people who need it more than you do at the time.

The Church does not support and will never support handouts. We always attach strings to the handouts. Why? Because freeloading is not acceptable in Zion. Everyone must work, even the rich. I am sure, again, that Mitt Romney was out there doing the menial labor that every other member of the church does. I’ve worked with the very rich and the very poor, doing the same things they do in the church. There is no class distinction. We do not treat the rich any differently than we do the poor. We do not allow them the luxury of thinking they are better because they have money and others do not. Their money is for them to bless their lives and the lives of the people around them. We are taught also not to covet, to wish to take things from people to make it our own. That is a gross crime and sin against nature as well.

Mitt Romney and City Creek represent the culmination of a great transformation within Mormonism.

The church has always had the rich and has always been involved in expensive real estate ventures, almost from day one. The Book of Mormon was printed using a rich person’s money who joined the church as a founding member. The Kirtland Temple was an extravagant structure built in frontier land inhabited by Indians and nothing but a few settlers. Again in Missouri, and again in Nauvoo, the church undertook expensive real estate projects to brighten the frontier and build a community worth living in. In Salt Lake, from day one, the plans were made for what could have been the most ambitious building at that time, the Salt Lake Temple that took forty years to complete. In addition, the layout for a bustling city was begun with the church behind the project.

Joseph Smith would definitely approve. It is our job as stewards of the earth to beautify it and to use its natural resources for our benefit. We have rich among us because we are righteous, and because we take care of the poor and because we make sure that everyone who is willing to work can find a decent job. We inspire people to get as much education as they can, to stay out of debt, to live within their means. Being rich is one of many goals every Mormon should have. Although many will not obtain material wealth, we should work and plan and save to become financially secure, aka, rich.

Ironically, while Romney would prefer to discuss wealth inequality in “quiet rooms,” the topic consumed both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s sermons and writings. For a short time in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites abandoned their love of riches and established “Zion” — a classless utopia that “had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, but they were all made free.”

There is no irony here. Romney’s goal is likely the establishment of Zion, just as my goal and Smith and Young’s goals were.

The Mormon concept of Zion is entirely foreign to those outside the church. It is literally beyond their imagination. Smith taught that Zion could only be built by a people who attended to their church duties, observed the Sabbath, and worked hard, along with keeping all the sacred commandments. If a people do this, then they can join together in an economic unity called the United Order. We do not practice the United Order (because we could not keep it if we tried — we are not yet pure in heart enough),  but we know exactly how it would work. I don’t know any Mormon that doesn’t wish they could join in such an order.

This is how the United Order worked.

First, those who wanted to join had to make sacred covenants with God to keep the order. They gave all of their property to the bishop, and likely working with the bishop, received property they would own outright.

Members of the order owned what they had. There is no leasing. (One of the early bishops ignored Smith’s express orders on this topic.) If you want to leave the order, you keep what you owned. No harm, no foul.

Within the order, things behave almost exactly like they do in a free market system. You work, you make money, you buy what you need, and you generally try to do well for yourself. The difference is your surplus. You take all of the surplus that you make and give it to the bishop, who then distributes it out to whomever needs it.

One of the problems with capitalism is people stop working when they have enough. Under the United Order, you try to be as productive as possible so you can benefit the people around you as much as possible. You can never make enough under the United Order, because you don’t rely on your surplus to establish your future.

We are promised that if we live worthy enough to begin the United Order again, that when we do start it, we’ll be so productive and wealthy that the outside world looking in will envy us. I can see this happening. It happened on more than one occasion in the Book of Mormon, where the righteous people probably lived the United Order on more than one occasion. Mormons who look to the millenium do not imagine slogging out life in the mud, barely able to put a square meal together. No, our buildings will all be encrusted with gigantic gems of the most precious nature, and the surface of the earth will be ornamented with the most extravagant gardens. How can we have these things unless we are so brilliantly productive that the idea of putting a gem on the side of a building seems like a good one, or devoting immense time and energy on building and maintaining a garden is seen as a proper use of resources? Any such people will have completely eliminated all forms of poverty, including sickness and ignorance.

Note that the church becomes the center for economic activity. Outside of the free market, the church is the nexus where all charity is done. If you need something, go see the bishop. If you have surplus, go give it to the bishop. It is apparent that the church would build universities and science foundations and hospitals and markets all for the purpose of benefiting everyone with these resources. The church will be the foundation for almost every other facet of our lives.

Young’s plan for building up the saints into the United Order is not the United Order. The experiments they did in places like Orderville do not describe the same kind of environment that the scriptures and Smith prophesied of, and the people at the time knew it. Young’s plan to feed the hungry and tend to the sick and educate the ignorant is the same plan and mission we have today. Why do you think the church spends considerable time helping its youth prepare for college, and why do we build colleges across the country? Why does it administer the perpetual education fund? Smith and Young’s vision has not changed today. We would feel just as comfortable as listening to them lecture on helping the needy as we do today.

The LDS church is deadset against government charity. When the ideas were first formed, the LDS presidents decried them as tools of the devil and the path to slavery. Although the church today has incorporated government welfare into its resources, it is well understood that if you are on welfare, you are doing something wrong. If it were possible, we would handle all the cases ourselves. As it is, the saints are no longer able to afford it, because of the burden of taxes and regulation, along with the enticement of free money for people who do not work.

The Book of Mormon speaks about this. Were we to live under wicked King Noah, who taxed his people mercilessly to fund his extravagant building plan and alcoholic addiction and standing army, we would have far more freedom than we do today under our current government! The people of Israel rebelled against their king who demanded 10% of their time. Our situation is more comparable to the people of Alma who were enslaved by the Lamanites and held captive and had half their property taken away. Were we free from this oppression, we would have more than enough to see to it that no one in our communities would have to ever talk to the government for charitable aid.

But how would the poor fare under the first Mormon president? By all accounts, not well.  Romney has eagerly endorsed Paul Ryan’s budget plan to slash $3.3 trillion from programs that benefit low-income Americans. Furthermore, Romney refuses to consider increased taxes on millionaires or a modest increase on the taxable rates of capital gains. He encourages the wealthy to hoard their riches while the poor continue to struggle. It’s a familiar story he should know. Samuel the Lamanite continues to cry out to Romney in sacred protest, “The day shall come when they shall hide up their treasures, because they have set their hearts upon riches; cursed be they and also their treasures.”

This is communist pablum, pure and simple. Taxes hurt the poor, not the rich. The rich will be fine after taxes. The poor see prices go up, services go down, and are not educated well enough to avoid tax increases. Romney does not hoard his wealth, and does not ask anyone to hoard their wealth. Romney’s money is at work right now, helping the poor. We know, for a fact, that government money spent on charity does more to hurt the poor than never collecting the money in the first place would.

If Romney had his heart set on his treasure, he wouldn’t run for president. He wouldn’t donate 10% of his income to the church. He wouldn’t be hiring people to work on his houses. He’d be making plans to make a billion or more, and finding ways to cheat other people out of their wealth. That’s not what he is about, and the Salon knows it.

I hope this isn’t the last attack born of ignorance of Mormon doctrine. I’m glad I have the chance to explain what we really  believe and practice. If you line up the Salon’s idea of the ideal society vs. the Mormon one, and gave people the chance to seriously contemplate it, they would choose the Mormon one every time. Yes, it looks remarkably similar to the American dream. Well, the Mormon dream came first, or rather was a product of the same elements that lead to the American dream. What do the Salon writers imagine to be our dream? A communist utopia where you have to line up to get your government money and beg the government for lenience? Sorry, I’d rather live in Zion than that society.

 

 

22 Responses to “Don’t Read the Salon for Mormon Doctrine”

  1. Eagle Vega Says:

    Here’s how Mitt makes his money:
    “In 1992, Mitt Romney was running Bain Capital, a private equity firm. Bain Capital bought American Pad & Paper Co. (Ampad) for $5 million.

    Over the next several years Romney’s firm bled the company dry. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs. Stockholders were left with worthless shares. Creditors and vendors were paid less than 50 cents on the dollar. While they were exploiting the company, Romney’s firm charged Ampad millions of dollars in “management fees.” In all, Romney and his investors reaped more than $100 million dollars from the deal.”

    Does that sound like an honest days work? The real truth is that anyone who has amassed as much fortune as Mitt Romney has done terrible terrible things to get there.

    I’m assuming that you are a temple recommend holder. Don’t you remember that you took an oath to consecrate all your property, time, talents and energy to the cause of Zion. How likely do you think Mitt Romney (who’s also an endowed member) would be to give up his fortunes and live the law of consecration if he were called to do so.

    As an exmormon (endowed, served a mission, went to BYU) I can plainly see without prejudice that the church has lost something from it’s amazing beginnings. The search for Zion was the push of the entire membership of the church in those days. It was the push that brought the pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. And, 150 years later, it’s all but forgotten. This is what the contributor at Salon is getting at. Your nitpickiness caused you to miss the whole message.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Assuming that the Ampad story is true, and not a communist interpretation of events they can barely comprehend, let’s look at what happened carefully, shall we?

      You use the word ‘investors’. That implies that Romney and Bain bought shares in Ampad, and thus became stockholders. How is then that they could bleed stockholders dry and profit at the same time? This logical contradiction calls the entire story into question.

      You use the word ‘management fees’. That implies that Romney was hired by Ampad to perform a certain service. Did he perform that service according to his contract or not? Was Ampad compelled to employ Romney against their will? If not, then there must have been some sort of mutual benefit: Ampad gained something from Romney’s work, and Romney got paid. Where is the crime?

      The way that Romney’s firm “bled the company dry” sounds like they were cleaning up, as best they could, a company that had already gone bankrupt, or was de facto in bankruptcy. That means that they could not pay their creditors what they promised. In this situation, there are only two options: (1) renegotiate with the creditors to obtain more favorable terms, or (2) dissolve the company and use the money raised to pay off the creditors, according to the priority of their debt. It sounds like option (2) was pursued, probably because the likelihood of Ampad ever generating enough profit in the future to not only pay back the creditors but to pay more than the company was worth at the time.

      The workers were laid off; that’s what happens when a company fails. Workers too often forget that the reason they are paid is because their activity, their job, gives more economic benefit to their employers than their compensation. I don’t know Ampad’s case in detail, but I will assume that the workers were unionized. Management likely came to the union and explained the dire situation of the company, and explained that they had to accept less compensation for more work. The union refused, so management’s options were either to break the union or close their doors. They chose to close their doors.

      Regardless, all that really happened to the workers is an opportunity vanished. They need to find a new job to work in. Likely, since their opportunity vanished, they will take their 2nd best choice. Since employees tend to stick with a company even when it is not the best option for them, many of them likely found a better option when they were freed from the commitment they made to Ampad. I am sure that there are some, and probably many, who refused to adapt to the changing environment around them, and blame everyone else for their own life decisions. Let’s ignore them, because they are digging their own pit, jumping in, and burying themselves by choice. Rather than try and make the most of what they have, they insist on moaning about what they don’t have. They would likely have done the same before Romney came along.

      The priority of how creditors and vendors get paid is determined by law and the type of contract they entered into. There is a small chance that all the people will get 100% of their money, but a much greater chance that most people will lose a lot of money. Despite this, it makes perfect sense to bring in someone like Romney and Bain, pay them hundreds of millions of dollars, to maximize the chance that everyone gets paid more. That is a wise investment.

      In all, I think Romney acted not only honestly, but honorably, creating wealth along the way.

      Your comments about my temple worthiness constitute an ad hominem. I would normally ignore them, but since there are a lot of people here who have no idea what you are talking about, I wish to clarify.

      One of the ordinances that members of the LDS church participate in at the temple has a component where the individual must swear an oath to consecrate their time, talent, and property to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its purposes. This is called the Law of Consecration.

      How I believe I live that law today is that I serve in the church, not just in official capacities but also as a lay member. All of my actions are congruent with the teachings of the church, and none of them interfere with the purposes of the church. My entire life is dedicated to the church and seeing its goals achieved.

      Should we ever live the United Order, where we are required to give all our property to the church and live on what the church gives back, I would happily do that. That day is not today and will not happen for some time.

      Romney is Romney; I don’t know what his church status is, and frankly I don’t care. It won’t affect my vote for him. He likely has different ideas than me (go figure!), and he likely disagrees vehemently with me on things I think are very important (go figure!) I don’t know why we would even want to peer into his psyche or contemplate for one moment what he believes. Let his actions speak about his intentions and character. Let us judge by the only thing we can judge by, that which is evidenced and not hidden.

      Finally, your understanding of the state of the church, the state of the world, and the relationship between the two is childish. If you wish for the “glory days” of the past, you are missing the “glory days” happening all around you right now. I would rather live today than in 1860, not because of the persecution but because the vast sum of knowledge and revelation available to me that simply didn’t exist back then, and the unity that exists among the members that did not exist back then, or even 30 years ago for that matter. We are busy building Zion right under your nose, and you can’t even see it because you are not willing to look. Every member should be engaged in temple service, missionary work, and helping the poor in spirit and in body. Bit by bit, the saints are changing at a fundamental level, improving their attitudes and outlook. At least that’s what I see in Federal Way and Northeast Tacom

  2. Samuel Laman Says:

    Don’t you see that you’re blind to the wolves in sheep’s clothing that are among your ranks just because you think they believe the same thing as you? Mitt Romney is Luciferian. It’s the real religion of all the wealthy individuals in this society. Open your eyes.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I don’t understand what you are saying. All I see is envy and pride, pure and simple. You’ve categorized people into “us” versus “them” and then find something wrong with “them” that you attribute to evil.

      Rich people are not fundamentally different than poor people; everyone is pretty much the same thing. Having money doesn’t necessarily change people. I know people who act poor but have plenty more money than people who act rich but have no money at all.

  3. Thirty Minutes of The Book of Mormon « The Greg Jones Blog Says:

    [...] verses it relies upon are located, because they do not exist. At no time did the Nephite government ever give even a tiny amount of assistance to the [...]

  4. Winston Smith Says:

    This article takes scripture and mingles it with the philosophies of men to justify the greed of people like Mitt Romney. The author just does not “get” the core of Christianity.

    I also disagree with her lame assertion that the Nephite government never helped the poor. The author is just plain wrong.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Winston, please support your assertions. Where am I wrong about Christianity? Why is your brand of Christianity more correct than mine? Where are examples from the Book of Mormon where the Nephite government helped the poor?

      • Winston Smith Says:

        First, In Alma, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were GIVEN the land of Jershon by the Nephite government for their inheritance. This was proposed by proclamation from the Chief Judge and affirmed by the “voice of the people.”

        It is also true that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were required to pay a “tax” to help support the Nephite armies as they were protecting the Anti-Nephi-Lehies from the Lamanites.

        At no time is there any mention of a requirement that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies pay for the land of Jershon that was GIVEN to them by the government. This sounds like the Nephite government helping the poor, the sick, or afflicted.

        Second, in Helaman chapter 6 the secret combinations take over the government because of wickedness. (You really need to read the whole chapter to grasp the climate of murder and apostasy.) Mormon, who is abridging the record, has limited space to explain what changes this brought and how the government of the Nephites operated after the wicked combinations took over. However, he does mention (v. 39) the defining characteristics of this new government:

        38 And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.

        39 And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.

        I am sure you will disagree, but, to me it is clear that prior to the takeover the government had some hand in helping the poor. How else would a change in government allow the new rulers to turn their backs upon the poor. My reading of this verse is that government programs were cut by the new wicked rulers that previously helped the most vulnerable in society.

        Third, Alma chapter 30 clearly rebukes Korihor and all forms of social darwinism.

        In sum, I am surprised that you cannot see past your example of wicked King Noah and his excessive taxation of his people. Of course that kind of taxation is wrong. He took all of the money to support his wicked lifestyle.

        However, there is evidence that the Nephite government did collect taxes to build roads, fund armies during times of war, establish schools, and so forth. These are public projects that nearly every advanced society in history has undertaken. And yes, most advanced societies collect taxes in some form to care for the poor. Even Rome did this.

        P.S. There is nothing “wrong” with people who fall upon hard times and temporarily take food stamps. This is actually one of the tools mentioned in Handbook 1 for Bishops to mention as they seek to help people in their wards.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were not given, as in charity, the land of Jershon. It was quid-pro-quo. They paid a tax to support the army, the ANL’s got to live in Jershon, well behind enemy lines. This is not an example of government giving something to the poor.

        The “turning their backs on the poor and the meek and the humble followers of God”, to me, is an obvious reference to what unrighteous judges do. (Remember, we are talking about the Law of Moses here.) The judges were responsible for hearing all cases, even the cases coming from people who could not afford to pay the judge for his service. By “turning their backs”, the judges refuse to take up their cases, or refused to extract justice from those who offended them. The help the poor and others received was simply justice and enforcement of the law. (See Deut 1:16-17 for a clear commandment on what judges should do according to the Law of Moses.)

        Alma 30 has no reference to government helping the poor. Korihor exhorted individuals not to share their substance with the poor. It’s obvious this was an obvious violation of what the church was teaching the people. King Benjamin clearly taught not too long ago that people should care for those who do not deserve it. Note he was talking to individuals. As he was king, he could’ve had the government care for those who need it an thus had no need to tell the people to do it themselves.

        The complaint against King Noah was not so much that he taxed to build public buildings (that was where the money really went, the wine and such was hinted at being grown on his own property by his own household), but that he taxed so much. We see a similar parallel when the peoples of Limhi and Alma complain about the burdens the Lamanites put on them, without any mention whatsoever what the Lamanites did with the money. Later on, King Benjamin expounds on the virtues of his government because he did not put taxes on the people. In short, taxes, in and of itself, was never a positive thing in the Book of Mormon.

        On the other hand, volunteerism seems to be the driving motive. Moroni raised troops not with salary but by raising his standard and calling people to arms.The cities that were fortified by Moroni appear to have been done with voluntary labor. Moroni is never recorded as having raised a senine in taxes. The only things he expects Zarahemla to send to the front lines are food and soldiers, already equipped and trained for battle.

        The education system, as far as I can tell, was always free. Alma records people leaving their labors to hear the word of God. Teaching the word of God was not considered a labor! Alma also records as never having been paid anything to teach the people. In fact, he abandons the one paying job he has as Chief Judge to spend more time teaching. I don’t know enough about what the Nephite nation was like during Mormon’s time, but I can assume that by that time, education had turned into an industry, where the poor were left out because they could not afford it. I can’t find a hint that education was funded by the government.

        In short, I can’t find evidence that the Nephite government ever did anything but hear cases and fight wars with voluntary labor and food that came from unknown sources. Those governments that did collect taxes were not held in high regard.

        Concerning the “wrongness” of food stamps, there is a scripture in the doctrine and covenants, that clearly spells out that the slothful shall not eat. Giving food to lazy people who choose not to work is immoral and wrong and evil, even if you volunteer your own food. Psychologists call this “enabling”. Economists call it a “moral hazard”.

        Yes, the church relies on the programs the government provides, but that’s because we’ve already paid for them, and our people do not have enough because of the taxes that oppress this people into poverty. I am sure that if the church had an option, they would prefer the people keeping their money and not having the food stamp program and other government welfare programs available to them, instead relying on the charity programs that private institutions put forward. Judging by the teachings of the church at the time these programs were implemented, I think I am justified in saying that. And judging by the efforts of the church to be prepared for a day when the government no longer provides these services, that day may come sooner than we think.

  5. Discrediting the assertion that Mormon doctrine is socialist Says:

    [...] verses it relies upon are located, because they do not exist. At no time did the Nephite government ever give even a tiny amount of assistance to the [...]

  6. Mormon Doctrine Leads to Socialism? - Tea Party Tribune Says:

    [...] verses it relies upon are located, because they do not exist. At no time did the Nephite government ever give even a tiny amount of assistance to the [...]

  7. Abby Hollyfield Says:

    The Republican presidential primary season has provided ample evidence of how the GOP has become a party possessed by a deep lack of empathy. During the debates audience members laughed at the prospect of uninsured people dying. They mocked a gay soldier who was serving his country abroad. It was also suggested during the debates that Muslim Americans should be openly harassed and racially profiled (not one candidate intervened or suggested this was unconstitutional) and that undocumented citizens should be deported and/or the United States surrounded by electric fences.

    In the conservative worldview, the poor are surplus people who are “unproductive,” a “drain” on American society, and who leech off of the rich and “normal” Americans. The social safety net should be destroyed as “entitlements” like Social Security and unemployment insurance encourage laziness and sloth. Support for hungry children, public education, the unemployed, and the poor should be cut to ensure tax cuts for the rich.

    The Republican leadership has proudly vowed to destroy Obama’s presidency at any cost–even if the country suffers because of it. The Republican Party has worked to obstruct legislation at every turn–even popular bills supported by the public. There is a concerted effort to destroy the public’s confidence in government with the hope that anger and rage will be distributed equally at both parties–as opposed to those in the Republican Party who are most responsible for these impasses in procedure and voting (even opposing legislation they previously supported in order to spite President Obama).

    The foot soldiers of the radical political faction, otherwise known as the Tea Party, have prided themselves on holding the country hostage (as they did during the debt ceiling crisis), repeatedly demonstrating that zealotry holds precedence over good government and the public interest.

    Mitt Romney is a perfect candidate for a political party of bullies. The policies offered by the Republican Party are a one-against-all mix of Ayn Rand’s love of personal selfishness and unbridled corporate greed. Here, the government should be drowned in the bathtub and the social safety destroyed in order to transfer more resources to the rich.

    Radical libertarianism, deregulation and a free market unmoored by any restrictions of common sense, humanity or reason will separate the weak from the strong. The rest of society be damned in this Mad Max view of Americans’ obligations to one another and the social compact. We are all just individual agents, lacking any rights of citizenship which cannot be secured and protected by radical free-market capitalism, the bankers, financiers, and plutocrats.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      How much did you get paid for writing this post?

      You are horribly, horribly biased, and are arguing something that has nothing to do with the post. I’m only approving it so people can see that the 50-cent gang is alive and well in America, and is working for the other side.

      For the record, LDS doctrine requires that people use their wealth to do good in their own community, which means first they support themselves, then their family, then their extended family, and then the people in their church and community. What you’re claiming republicans and mormons do is completely wrong.

  8. Neither Left Nor Right Says:

    Mosiah 21:17 — “Now there was a great number of women, more than there was of men; therefore king Limhi commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger; and this they did because of the greatness of their number that had been slain.”

    The Lord has endorsed neither socialism nor capitalism; He has given his imprimatur to no economic system except his own.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Thank you for mentioning that. Note that King Limhi did not collect the money and distribute it, which would be socialism. Instead, he told people to share their wealth with the widows, which respects their property rights, which is capitalism.

      • Abby Hollyfield Says:

        As expected, you ignore the obvious fact that king Limhi commanded his people to give to the poor. This is direct government intervention. It is equivalent of mandatory redistribution of wealth to the poor.

        It does not matter whether the government collects the money first and then redistributes it to the poor. In fact, that is what may have happened. The BOM is an abridgement. It does not contain all of the details.

        King Limhi commanded his people to give to the poor. It was a direct order to redistribute wealth. It was not negotiable. It was socialism.

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        As I addressed above, it’s fairly clear that King Limhi was speaking as Chief Priest Limhi in the Nephite tradition of their kinds being priest-kings.

        It makes a huge difference how the money is collected and allocated. When you break down my door and take my money, even if it is to feed the poor, that’s thievery. When you stand behind the force of government and take my money, that’s a tax. When you ask me to share my money with people who need it, that’s religion.

        What King Limhi did cannot be considered socialism. Where did he empower the state to control economic resources?

  9. Mormon Doctrine Leads to Socialism? | Right Wing News Says:

    [...] verses it relies upon are located, because they do not exist. At no time did the Nephite government ever give even a tiny amount of assistance to the [...]

  10. Neither Left Nor Right Says:

    Limhi “commanded,” which, when applied to a king (or a military officer), implies the power of the state.

    I certainly do not believe that Mormon doctrine advocates socialism; but neither does it advocate capitalism. It advocates consecration.

    I believe it is a mistake to try to use the Book of Mormon (as Salon did), or any scripture to justify any human ideology, whether socialist, capitalist, or any other.

    In human governments, the Lord expects us to “… observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people” (Mosiah 29:26), which may sway into various economic systems; that doesn’t mean the people are wrong, just democratic (small “d”). The Brethren themselves encourage democratic participation every election. So long as the people as a whole are righteous (an increasingly big “if” at the moment), the government will prosper. If they are not righteous, no human-devised economic system will save them from ruin.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      King Limhi, as you well know, was a priest-king in the model of King Nephi. This kind of commandment had less to do with the military than with society and basic charity and living according to the Law of Moses, so it’s really a stretch to compare this with what our government is doing. It’s notable that after the church-state separation that King Mosiah II implemented, there is no mention of any judge issuing such a command. Instead, the priests and teachers taught the people to share their wealth with the widows, orphans, and poor.

      Mormon Doctrine certainly does advocate capitalism. It teaches that men are agents unto themselves. It teaches that we are stewards of our property, implying that we have a God-given right to determine its disposition, as well as accountability only to God for how we so choose. This is Capitalism 101.

      Your idea that Mormon doctrine has nothing to do with politics or anything in this world is a failing on your part to connect the dots. Some of the ideas of the world are good, some are bad, true. None of them approach the perfection of the laws and doctrines revealed to us by God, but we can certainly weigh their usefulness given the knowledge and understanding we have.

      Your observation that a successful economic system begins with individual righteousness is absolutely correct.

  11. Neither Left Nor Right Says:

    I am not comparing Limit’s command to what our government is doing, only pointing out that a righteous king commanded the men in his society to take care of the widows and fatherless. Certainly this is not socialism, but it is a limited example of state regulation in the economy. It is a stretch to claim that this command did not imply the power of the state. For example, “… Moroni commanded his men that they should fall upon them until they had given up their weapons of war” (Alma 52:32) hardly suggests a polite request.

    Stewardship and ownership are two different things. Stewardship is the Lords’ concept. Ownership is man’s. I think we agree that freedom is advocated by the Book of Mormon, but that is different from capitalism (which, by the way, I support, with appropriate, wise and limited regulation as the Constitution in my view allows).

    That freedom can aid a capitalist society is not to say that capitalism and freedom are hand in glove. Capitalism left to its own devices often breeds corruption, which leads to less freedom, and ironically, less real capitalism as capital is increasingly obtained and controlled though corrupt means.

    I did not say that “Mormon doctrine has nothing to do with politics or anything in this world.” I said that the Book of Mormon does not advocate any human ideology. I agree that, “Some of the ideas of the world are good, some are bad, true. None of them approach the perfection of the laws and doctrines revealed to us by God, but we can certainly weigh their usefulness given the knowledge and understanding we have.” But, our knowledge and understanding are always less than God’s, so we should be very careful about falling into dogmatic positions that with greater light and knowledge we may find out to be in error in whole or in part. Finding bits of truth in human thought is not the same as advocating wholesale a particular human point of view.

    Attempting to “connect the dots” is exactly what Salon tried, rather poorly, to do. But, respectfully, that is what I believe you are also doing — attempting to connect dots to support a particular point of view. We all have biases, and anyone can find support for their biases in the scriptures if they look for them. That’s part of what Jacob called “looking beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14).

    I am not seeking to argue with; you have a point of view, which you clearly believe in strongly, but it is just one point of view among many. It may be better than others. On many points I believe we clearly agree, and I respect your desire to share your views. Nevertheless, many righteous, faithful latter-day saints will read the same scriptures as you or I do and come to different conclusions, all the while being acceptable before God. That’s part of free will and working out our salvation.

    I appreciate your thoughtful comments and the opportunity to share our perspectives, which I do not think are too far apart. You may wish to share additional perspective in response this post, which, if you do, I will likewise read respectfully. However, in an effort to spend less time trolling the Web, I will need to make this my last post.

    Yours in Christ.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Are you implying that King Limhi dispatched officials and regulators to see to it that everyone paid their fair share, and dragged those who gave too little to prison? I’m sorry, “command” isn’t what you think it is here. Every commandment of God is merely a recommendation that we ignore at our own peril. Those who love God obey; those who don’t, don’t. King Limhi’s people seemed to be the sort that didn’t take orders from the king lightly, at least not at that time.

      Stewardship when you are a steward for God is, for all intents and purposes, ownership whether you believe in God or not. I can’t imagine an owner having any more or less control of their property than a steward for God. They are both equally bound to obey God’s law, and both will be equally punished for disposing of their property in contradiction to God’s will.

      I think you are stretching capitalism. Yes, it is the tendency of people to abuse each others rights. The moment the rights of property and trade are no longer protected, it is no longer capitalism. It’s not capitalism which does this. It is the evil in men’s hearts. Capitalism, after all, promises the maximum wealth for all involved, much more so than any other arrangement. It would be foolish for anyone to reject it.

      Capitalism cannot exist, by the way, without government enforcing a just law that protects people’s rights. The minute justice vanishes, capitalism is gone as well.

      Do you think the argument about ideology must necessarily exclude God’s ideology? Is it not possible for man to comprehend a portion of God’s philosophy? I think you are backing away from your original claims here, because you have seen your error. You don’t have to be mealy-mouthed about it, or pretend there is more than one truth. There isn’t. There is God, and there is error. I believe God has made it quite clear that his economic system of choice is capitalism, where each individual acts according to the dictates of his conscience to improve his own life and the lives of the people around him.

      My bias, my viewpoint, has been established after carefully considering the facts. My understanding of the Book of Mormon and what is righteous and what is not has changed over time, somewhat due to maturity, but mostly as I considered the storied and doctrines in more fine detail. I can defend my connection of the dots. The Salon cannot. The Salon was wrong, while I believe I am right. I won’t apologize for my bias, by the way. I prefer good, truth, and life over evil, error, and death.

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