Yesterday our LDS ward celebrated the Veteran’s Day Holiday by inviting selected speakers from the congregation to speak on the subject of America and Veteran’s Day. The first two speakers were insightful and interesting. The final speaker reminded me that I live in a backward part of the country where old beliefs have not yet died out. I was awestruck that the speaker was not asked to sit down, because his remarks were, in my opinion, not only doctrinally inaccurate, but outright offensive, distasteful, and insensitive.
The speaker spoke of the so-called “Divinity” (his words) of the Constitution of the United States of America. He paralleled the Constitution to the Ten Commandments, saying that we could read the document as scripture. By the standards of most people, this claim is absurd, even amongst many prominent LDS leaders such as Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He proclaimed that many aspects of the Constitution are in fact, arbitrary, for example term limits for politicians. Elder Oaks believes that the terms for office for Representatives, Senators, and Presidents are based on arbitrary consensus rather than divine appointment. He states, “I have never considered it necessary to defend every line of the Constitution as scriptural. For example, I find nothing scriptural in the compromise on slavery or minimum age or years of citizenship for congressmen, senators, or the president.” (Oaks, the Divinely Inspired Constitution, 1992)
A former Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, he understands the nature of compromise, and that the flaws of men are embedded in our laws. I do not understand how a religious person could justify that God believes that slaves could ever be valued as three fifths of a person, even in regard to census and voting districts. If God is no respecter of persons, than surely the Constitution is flawed because it makes a distinction between white and black people. I also ask myself, if the Constitution is to be read as scripture than why was it amended twenty-seven times? Did Moses have to make a Bill of Rights after giving the Ten Commandments? The fact that it has been amended so many times indicates that it is in fact a flawed and incomplete document.
After the speaker’s rant regarding the Constitution, he suggested that God intended America’s Government to be limited. He claimed that enlarged or bloated governments are not of God, and that we draw further from the Lord by enlarging our government. When he made this statement I almost walked out; however, I remained because I wanted to know what the speaker would expose to the rest of the congregation. He glorified America, claiming that it was the greatest government on earth due to its divinely appointed constitution, and that in order to keep America in adherence to its constitution we must not enlarge federal programs that seek to consume America’s resources.
I have many problems with this dialogue, and I will share one. These statements put down countries whose governments are either larger or smaller than the American government. By glorifying America, it suggests the inferiority of the rest of the world. I wonder if the speaker had ever left the United States. Has he ever read about or visited the many countries in Northern Europe and Scandinavia? Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland all have extensive welfare programs that could be considered bloated, but they all hail the lowest corruption rates in the world, the best education, and the most transparency. Like America, these countries are free, where people may practice their religion however they like. I worry that the speaker represents a larger population of Mormons who suffer from a superiority
complex. America and Mormons have much to learn from the rest of the world.
He later stated that communism was from Satan, and that any policy that nears itself to communism nears itself to Satan. I am by no means a communist, but I wonder what a statement like this is doing in a sacrament meeting, and I feel that there is a lot to learn from communism. He stated that communism steals wealth from the people, which is theft, and that theft is not from God. I wondered if he looked at any of his receipts when buying groceries. Here in Arizona they put a 9.5% sales tax on almost all goods and services. Is that not robbery too? Is the government not stealing from everyday people in order to enlarge the Arizona government? I do not think that his statement was well thought out. Almost a fourth of the world’s population lives under a communist government. I do not believe that it is wise to declare that they all live under a satanic government, particularly when I do not believe that the speaker himself really understands communism. This lack of diplomacy leads me to my last point.
The last thing he said is that international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, and NATO are not from God, but from Satan. This is because they undermine the sovereignty of the Constitution of the United States of America. *SMACK* Wow! I did not see that coming. Wow. I mean wow! An uncle of mine suggests that United Nations is a waste of money, which I can respectfully disagree, but I had never in my life heard that language. This did it. I was standing up to walk out when my wife tugged at my shirt, and said that he was almost done, and we should probably stay. She also wanted to hear the argument. He did not really expound, he just stated it as fact.
After the meeting I talked with out bishop. He said to me, “I think I know why you are here, and I know that you have every right to be upset, because I’m not going to lie, I am too, but I want to hear it from you.” I told him a quick summary of what I described, and he nodded his head in approval. He said, “As a bishop, when you call someone to talk, you never know what you are getting yourself into.” Out of respect for our bishop, I will summarize by saying that he disagreed with what was said by the speaker, and will make amends in the near future.
Brian King, Mesa, AZ.