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Home > Issues > Identifying Political Popery

Identifying Political Popery:
A Decade of Reflection

by Daniel Newby, November 24, 2005
Updated on February 23, 2006

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion reassumes its original benignity." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

Summary: It is crucial for the sovereign citizen to realize the dangers of surrendering his relationship with his Creator to leaders of organized religions.  While this article highlights disturbing trends within the LDS church, they are hardly isolated to one denomination.  The basic goodness inherent in men and women is under assault by the very organizations that claim to watch over them.
Note: This more in-depth article was precipitated by an earlier e-mail sent out to activists in Utah.  Many have requested additional evidence and information to assist them in formulating their own opinions, and in speaking with others about these subjects.



1. Religious Operatives Conspiring with Politicians

2. Calling Evil Men Good

    Extolling the "Goodness" of Michael O. Leavitt

    Praising Globalist Jon Huntsman Jr.

    Award Ceremonies for Communist Spy Armand Hammer

3. Succoring Barbaric Governments

    Applying "Unsanctioned" Pressure for China's MFN Status

    Silencing Victims in the Name of Profit

4. Sidestepping Accountability via Corporate Affiliates

    Cognitive Distance

    Corporate Practices Versus Pulpit Speeches

Solution: Hold ALL Men Equally Accountable

Addendum: Supporting Thought Crimes Quietly

New for 1/6/05: Addendum 2: Public Sponsorship of Gun Control


1. Religious Operatives Conspiring with Politicians

Political popery refers to acts undertaken by religious officials who, at whatever cost to the freedom of others, use their influence to ingratiate themselves with eager politicians for the goal of obtaining special dispensations and privileges — the ultimate objective being to establish a political-religious empire that eventually equals or usurps the power of an increasingly oppressive government.

In our day and age, any religious leader seriously interested in gaining undue access and power must inevitably turn to government to accomplish his designs. Recently, U.S. senator Robert ("Bob") Bennett of Utah, at the behest of lobbyists representing his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormons" or "LDS"), inserted an amendment at the end of the following federal statute (bold and bold caps added; my comments in bold red brackets):

Bringing in and harboring certain aliens
(a) Criminal penalties
(A) Any person who—
(i) knowing that a person is an alien, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever such person at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Commissioner, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien;
(ii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law;
(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
(iv) encourages or induces an alien to
come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or [Under Bennett's amendment below, religious leaders are now exempted from these portions I bolded in clauses ii, iii, and iv]
(I) engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or
(II) aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts,
shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).
(B) A person who violates subparagraph (A) shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs—
(i) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i) or (v)(I) or in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), or (iv) in which the offense was done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both;
(ii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), (iv), or (v)(II), be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both;
(iii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) during and in relation to which the person causes serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18) to, or places in jeopardy the life of, any person, be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; and
(iv) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) resulting in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined under title 18, or both.

[Bennett's amendment is inserted here, beginning with the following extraneous verbiage: "SEC. Section 274(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)) is amended by adding at the end the following:")]

(C) It is not a violation of clauses (ii) or (iii) of subparagraph (A), or of clause (iv) of subparagraph (A) except where a person encourages or induces an alien TO COME TO OR ENTER the United States [In other words, if a religious leaders does not encourage or induce aliens to come here illegally, he/she is otherwise exempt from clauses ii, iii, and iv, which are bolded above.], for a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States, or the agents or officers of such denomination or organization, to encourage, invite, call, allow, or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary for the denomination or organization in the United States as a volunteer who is not compensated as an employee, notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses, provided the minister or missionary has been a member of the denomination for at least one year."
Source: To find Bennett's amendment on, do the following:
1) Go to
2) In the "Enter Search" field, type "Page: S10270"
3) Click on the first search result displayed (the only exact match).
3) Scroll down to "Page: S10270" and click on it. Bennett's amendment is toward the top.
See the old code before Bennett amended it.  I merely plugged this new amendment in.

Excerpts from Congressman Tom Tancredo's website adequately summarize the impact of Bennett's amendment  [bold and caps added]:

Religious Groups Hiding Terrorists, II  11/15/05 2:03 pm 
As we mentioned yesterday, a provision snuck into the ag approps bill allows religious groups to "conceal, harbor, or shield" illegal aliens from detection so long as the groups "encourage" or "enable" the illegal to be a minister or missionary...

Bennett's Spin  11/15/05 2:03 pm
Senator Bennett, the Senate Ag Chairman who inserted the provision, spun it around:

"It does not under any circumstances allow a terrorist or any illegal alien any kind of special sanctuary," Bennett said Monday. Church volunteers who are illegal immigrants could still face legal action, he said.

Bennett said that he inserted the provision at the behest of lobbyists for the Latter Day Saints, which claims to have the most foreign proselytizers in the U.S. of any religion. A lawyer for the church continued the spin:

"This narrow exception to the immigration act allows people of all faiths to fulfill their religious obligations," [Mormon lawyer] Purdy said.

Asked if a church might be protected if it housed illegal immigrants, he said, "No, I don't think so." He said the law does not protect religious groups acting as fronts for terrorists.

Quick Rebuttal  11/15/05 2:03 pm 
I don't think so" sounds a lot like "I'm not sure." Let's not take a lobbyist's word for it; let's look at what the legislation actually says.

A quick rebuttal to Mr. Purdy: the amendment says, specifically, religious organizations may provide "room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses" to illegal aliens.

A quick rebuttal to Senator Bennett: His amendment obviously does provide special sanctuary to illegal aliens who are associated with religious organizations, because it allows those organizations to help aliens break U.S. law. For the terrorist connection, read below.

The Terrorist Connection In Depth  11/15/05 2:03 pm
Here's the in depth look: Bennett's amendment in effect strikes parts of three paragraphs in Title 8, Section 1324 of U.S. Code. That's the section of federal law titled "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens."

If you claim to be a religious organization, now you can:
"transport[], or move[]" illegal aliens across the country (subparagraph ii)
"encourage[] or induce[] an alien... to reside in the United States" (subparagraph iv)
[My Note: Again, according to my read of this subparagraph, religious leaders can encourage and induce illegal aliens to stay in the U.S., but not to initially come to the U.S.  In my opinion, based upon past experience, it will likely be a small difference in actual application of the law.]
"conceal[], harbor[], or shield[] from detection" illegal aliens (subparagraph iii)

That's right. Religious organizations can conceal illegal aliens from ICE and other law enforcement agencies, and they're now protected under federal law.

Additional stories verify LDS official involvement in this scheme. From the Associated Press:

Bennett said he added the language to the farm bill after it was brought to his attention by lawyers for the Mormon Church. The church uses countless volunteers and was concerned it would be held liable if one was found to be an illegal immigrant.

According to Bennett, the law says that if an illegal immigrant volunteering for a church is picked up for illegal activities or illegal status, the church will not be held responsible.

"It does not in any way provide sanctuary, nor does it provide immunity for the church if the church gets involved in anything illegal itself," Bennett said.
Source: "U.S. congressman slams provision for churches where illegal immigrants work," Jennifer Talhelm, writer, Associated Press, 11/14/2005.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Bennett has said he included the exemption for religious groups at the request of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...   LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills said the church, like many faiths, relies on volunteers to administer programs and the "narrow exception to the immigration act allows people of all faiths to fulfill their religious obligations.

"The law permits churches to use the volunteer services of their undocumented members by insulating the churches from criminal sanctions for doing so," he said.

Specifically, the provision states that it is not illegal for a religious organization to "encourage, invite, call, allow or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of minister or missionary" as long as the individual is not compensated beyond room, board, travel, medical assistance or living expenses.
Source: "Churches' volunteers exemption under fire," Robert Gehrke, Salt Lake Tribune, 11/17/2005

From the Denver Post:

Written by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, the provision shields religious groups from a federal law against knowingly transporting, concealing, harboring or shielding an illegal immigrant... Bennett wrote the provision at the behest of attorneys for the Mormon Church, which, according to Bennett, uses the largest number of volunteers of any U.S. religious group.

A spokesman for the church, Michael Purdy, said the law will allow illegal immigrants to serve as Mormon missionaries, which they previously could not do.

"This narrow exception to the immigration act allows people of all faiths to fulfill their religious obligations," Purdy said.
Source: "Tancredo blasts shield for religious groups," Anne C. Mulkern, staff writer, Denver Post, 11/15/2005

To interpret, these religious leaders not only want property, land, and profits while avoiding the payment of taxes, via their special IRS 501(c)(3) status,  but they also want a liability exception unlike all for-profit businesses and individuals in America.

Most people like to reminisce about the old days when churches were sanctuaries from persecution.  But this is not what is being proposed. The barn door has now been opened to entice people, including militants and criminal elements that care not a whit for freedom and our society, to break federal and state immigration laws (which, while imperfect, constitute some of the few laws that actually make some sense).

They are also encouraging American-based "non-profit" religious profiteers to abuse these "volunteer" illegal aliens.  If these aliens ever step out of line, their religious leaders can easily send them packing with no personal liability for enticing them to come here in the first place.

Note: The federal statute discussed is otherwise horrific in that it promotes vast federal powers of confiscation without due process (craftily referred to as "civil forfeiture" in TITLE 8, CHAPTER 12, SUBCHAPTER II, Part VIII, §1324(3)(b).  See the old code before Bennett amended it.


2. Calling Evil Men Good

In order to gain power within the government, religious leaders must form allegiances with like-minded politicians.  Because of the trust their parishioners place in them, they can have tremendous influence to sway voters, and may exercise that power without explicitly endorsing a given candidate — thus avoiding any threat to their tax-exempt IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit status.  The following LDS public interactions provide showcase examples as to how this can occur:


Extolling the "Goodness" of Michael O. Leavitt

LDS church president Gordon B. Hinckley has publicly lauded the former Utah governor (and LDS member) Michael O. Leavitt on more than one occasion.  For example:

"Well, the governor is a native of Utah, young man, part of the economy in the insurance business, other things, grew up there. I know his father and mother well, know him well. I regard him as a good man doing a good job."
Source: Larry King Live, "Gordon Hinckley: Distinguished Religious Leader of the Mormons," aired September 8, 1998 - 9:00 p.m. ET [bold added]

Michael O. Leavitt's era of indecency and corruption has been amply documented by a local Utah watchdog organization, Accountability Utah.  Among other injustices, Leavitt:

  • Aided and abetted the slaughter of unborn babies;

  • Refused to sign pledge of support for the religious freedoms of the Falon Gong faith, who are — by the thousands — imprisoned, drugged, barbarically tortured, raped, brainwashed, and murdered by the Chinese government;

  • Promoted gun control;

  • Destroyed parental and property rights;

  • Grew government through the roof;

  • Condoned government abuse and neglect; and

  • Lied about not running for more than two terms.
    Source: "Michael O. Leavitt's Pink Slip Report," Accountability Utah

Leavitt resigned as governor to pursue president Bush's appointment as director of the federal Health & Human Services agency.  In his new position, he has utterly refused to take any meaningful action to prevent the multi-millions in taxpayer funds the federal government annually gives out to subsidize abortions on demand.

Are these good acts that we should all emulate?  If this is a "good job," then what could possibly constitute a bad job?  Yet, despite Leavitt's abysmal record, thanks to the support of enablers like Gordon B. Hinckley, he sailed through his re-election bid.

Note: One typical rebuttal is that the LDS church (and all churches for that matter due to the fine IRS line they must walk with regards to avoiding political endorsements) does not officially get involved, but leaves it to members to research and prayerfully select their leaders.  See the "Conclusion: Hold All Men Equally Accountable" to examine the problems associated with taking this view seriously.  The power of even an implied endorsement of character by a king-maker such as Hinckley is immense under the LDS philosophy.


Praising Globalist Jon Huntsman Jr.

LDS church president Gordon B. Hinckley has also praised current Utah governor (and LDS member) Jon Huntsman in the LDS Deseret News:

"King, whose wife is a member of the LDS Church, asked President Hinckley an array of questions, from life after death to how he feels about Utah Gov.-elect Jon Huntsman Jr. ('I think he's a good man,' President Hinckley said.)"
Source:  "Pres. Hinckley optimistic LDS leader offers views on variety of subjects on 'Larry King Live'," Jennifer Toomer-Cook, Deseret News, 12/27/2004

Jon Huntsman served for several years as the chair of Envision Utah, an environmental organization (funded by millions of tax dollars) that promotes unaccountable regional government and the weakening of property rights — reducing human beings to bicycles, light rail, and cramped apartments.  Huntsman does not follow the lofty goals of Envision Utah himself, as the following flier demonstrates.

Huntsman's unique distinction is having the fifth-lowest score on liberty and human rights in the "2005 Legislative Performance Report" (put out by local watchdog organization Accountability Utah).  In just one year, Huntsman:

  • Forced taxpayers to pay for abortions on demand;

  • Attacked innocent parents in parental rights cases;

  • Nominated a vicious, incompetent judge to the bench; and

  • Expanded Soviet-style "drug courts" and vetoed a bill to protect the rights of parents who refuse to subject their children to psychotropic drugs.

Again, these traits should hardly be emulated or praised.


Celebrating Communist Spy Armand Hammer

Huntsman's father, now a general authority in the LDS church, is a public fan of communist spy Armand Hammer.  From the Deseret News, December 12-13, 1990, p. D7:

Huntsman remembers [Armand] Hammer as "a dear and valued friend."

A special reception was held for Armand Hammer at the LDS church headquarters, where he was presented with a bronze likeness of himself by Elder Russell M. Nelson and Jon Huntsman, Sr.
Note: See a timeline of Hammer's life and activities.

Extolling his own humanitarian efforts, Huntsman Sr. states the following of Armand Hammer:

I was watching television one night, December 7, 1988. I had come home from work, Karen and I had a bite to eat, flipped on the news about five minutes to ten, and saw a devastating earthquake in Armenia. I had never heard of Armenia. To me, it was just another country that started with an "A." A third of the country had been injured or killed. It was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the twentieth century. The next morning I called a friend of mine, Dr. Armand Hammer in Los Angeles, and said, "Dr. Hammer, we must go to Armenia. They’ve had a devastating earthquake; they need us." Dr. Hammer had had excellent relationships with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. He had closer relationships than our own government did. He had been there many times.
Source: "Exchange," Alumni Magazine for the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, 1997-98 Annual Report.

Yes, being a spy and world communist/mercantilist sympathizer would tend to require a number of round trips to the U.S.S.R.! According to fellow LDS traveler Russell M. Nelson, Huntsman and Hammer made a great team:

Although I had been to the Soviet Union three times before as a surgeon, Elder Ringger and I first went to Moscow as Church leaders in June 1987 on a very important fact-finding journey. We met with the chairman of the Council of Religious Affairs and with leaders of other religious denominations, including the Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish faiths. At the invitation of the chief rabbi, Adolph Shayevich, we attended a bar mitzvah service at the synagogue in Moscow.

We returned in August of 1989 to participate, along with philanthropists Dr. Armand Hammer of California and Jon M. Huntsman of Utah, in signing an agreement, August 8, for the Church to assist in relief efforts for victims of the disastrous earthquake of December 1988 in Armenia. May I digress to express gratitude for the faith and generosity of members of the Church who contributed funds generously and spontaneously for this cause. Though the Church never solicited a single coin, valuable donations have been voluntarily contributed by members throughout the world, either directly or via their own bishops and branch presidents.
Source: "Drama on the European Stage," Elder Russell M. Nelson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Tambuli, May 1992, 8

Upon Hammer's death in 1990, the LDS church apparently (I have not been able to verify this document for myself) issued a statement that, "Dr. Hammer lived a long life full of concern for others."
Source: "Church leaders express condolences," Church News, December 15, 1990.  According to another source I have not yet documented to my satisfaction, Elder Nelson also stated: "I observed the high esteem held for Dr. Hammer by dignitaries of the USSR and the USA. Unitedly, they commended him for his life's single-minded purpose in alleviating acrimony or ill-will among people of these two important nations." (Deseret News, 4/19/1990, pp. A1, A2)

Somehow "agreeing to disagree" does not quite rationalize friendship with, and praise of, evil opportunists like Armand Hammer.


3. Succoring Barbaric Governments

In order to increase their influence and opportunity for growth in other countries, religious leaders use their political and corporate influence to sacrifice nationalist and moral ideals.


Applying "Unsanctioned" Pressure for China's MFN Status

The LDS church, for instance, has established a track record of aiding and abetting horrific human rights abuses in communist China.  During the debates over whether the U.S. government should grant permanent Most Favored Nation Status to China, LDS Seventy Donald L. Staheli, lobbied and pressured LDS congressmen to vote in China's favor.

When Staheli's activities were leaked to the press, LDS church officials claimed ignorance.  This plausible deniability is a key component to maintaining the air of neutrality and indifference.

Staheli had unique qualifications to involve himself in this issue.  The LDS Ensign portrayed him as follows [my notes in bold brackets]:

In 1977 he moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, to accept a position as executive vice president and director with Continental Grain Co., a large, private multinational agribusiness and financial services firm headquartered in New York City [better known to many small farmers as a monopolistic grain cartel that has crushed many independent farming ventures]. In 1984 he became president and chief operating officer and in 1988 was named CEO, eventually becoming chairman of the board. He has served on several corporate boards.

He is currently chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the U.S.-China Society. He served as chairman of an international business leaders advisory council for the mayor of Shanghai [which explains his pivotal role in pressuring LDS congressman to support tariffs that favor China over all other nations]. He is a member of the council on foreign relations [an organization dedicated to destroying the national sovereignty of America] and is chairman of the Points of Light Foundation, a national organization that encourages volunteer activities.
Source: "News of the Church," Ensign, May 1997, p. 107 at$fn=default.htm In the Advanced Search, type "Donald Staheli council foreign relations points light"

And for his supposedly unsanctioned service in rewarding communist China with exclusive trade tariff breaks, the LDS-owned and -operated Brigham Young University proudly offers a Donald L. Staheli award at the Marriott School of BYU.  Are young people really supposed to emulate men like Staheli?

Note: One typical rebuttal is that the LDS church (and other churches) now have an international flock that knows no boundaries, and therefore must represent the political interests of their global members.  If that is the case, then churches should abandon the candy of their U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) status and pay full taxes like everyone else.


Silencing Victims in the Name of Profit

Staheli, Huntsman, and Nelson are joined by the LDS-dominated Utah legislature and governor, who repeatedly go to bat for the Chinese government.  In 2002, members of the violently persecuted Falun Gong faith desperately implored Governor Leavitt to sign a pledge of support for their religious freedom.  Leavitt, whose LDS ancestors claimed to have been denied similar appeals for protection from the U.S. government, openly refused to sign the pledge.

Men, women, and children of the Falun Gong religion are imprisoned, drugged, barbarically tortured, raped, brainwashed, and murdered by the Chinese government.  To learn more, visit the Falun Gong Information Center (note that some of the material is very disturbing in nature).

Then-governor Michael O. Leavitt's spokeswoman Natalie Gochnour defended her boss's actions to the LDS Deseret News with the following:

"We are preparing to host the world.  This is an international political issue that is really not our fight. We are committed to not causing international controversies right now."

"There are real sensitivities on this issue.  It is very clearly a big issue, a significant issue to the Chinese government. The governor was trying to be sensitive to that."

"We have many international visitors coming to our state and we are trying to be sensitive."
Source: "Leavitt skirts Chinese issue," Jerry Spangler, Deseret News, January 10, 2002.

During the 2002 session, House Joint Resolution 6, "Resolution Urging an End to the Persecution of Falun Gong Practitioners," by former representative Matt Throckmorton, was killed by LDS Speaker of the House Martin Stephens and his house leadership appointees in the house rules committee.  Like thousands of captured Falon Gong practitioners, this resolution never saw the light of day.  (LDS Speaker of the House Martin Stephens saw to that.)

America is supposed to provide a beacon of hope to people like this.  Yet Utah, whose residents claim to have been persecuted in a similar fashion in the not-so-distant past, can not even pass a simple resolution in support of humane treatment toward innocent women and children!

Members of the Falun Gong faith begged and pleaded for assistance, and were rejected for one reason: they did not bring enough money and political power to the table.

LDS religious officials somehow find the courage to "transport," "move," "encourage," "induce," "conceal," "harbor," or "shield," illegal aliens who threaten our nation's very existence.  Yet, when the opportunity knocks to stand up for another's right to worship in peace, these loudest so-called moralists are no where to be seen — for fear of upsetting "international relations".

Note: This conspicuous, selective silence on the part of LDS officials (and those of most other faiths as well) is a frequent occurrence in Utah.  See, for example, their noted absence on a bill to end taxpayer funding of abortion, and compare that with the example in the addendum below.

4. Sidestepping Accountability via Corporate Affiliates

Religious officials seeking power often utilize mass media outlets to say (or do) those things they are loathe to publicly undertake directly.  In this fashion, they can indirectly promote their agenda without losing as many potential donors.


Cognitive Distance

The LDS church, for instance, owns and operates KSL (1160 AM and KSL 5 Television).  KSL is a division of Bonneville International Corporation (BIC).  BIC and the Deseret Morning News are subsidiaries of the Deseret Management Corporation.
Sources: and

According to the official DMC website, it:

"is a corporate holding company whose purpose is to oversee the commercial companies affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to provide appropriate services to its subsidiaires [sp] and to its ownership. DMC's member companies are independently operated, commercial taxpaying corporations -- each having its own mission, objectives, assets, products, services, and board of directors. However, all member companies have the common purposes of (1) productively serving society; (2) promoting high values; (3) providing quality service to their respective clients, customers, and communities; (4) being sensitive to the needs of, and opportunities for, their associates; (5) upholding the values of and fostering the goals of their ownership; and (6) generating a fair financial return for their ownership.

A mere cursory view of KSL and Deseret News editorials reveals that they actively promote nearly every political evil imaginable (see one example in the Addendum below).

Yet to claim that KSL and Deseret News are controlled and directed by LDS church leadership is considered an attack on the LDS faith.  LDS officials, we are told, do not micromanage their subsidiaries and are not accountable for their output.  To openly confront the horrible policies and practices of KSL or the Deseret News is interpreted as an attack on the LDS faith (note that many of the DMC officers have served in high leadership capacities in the LDS church).

Which is it?  If the LDS church is not responsible and the participants can not be scrutinized, then how can real accountability exist for these individuals and organizations?
Source on board members:

Additional Note added 11/25/05: Current Editor and CEO of the LDS Deseret News is also worthy of special mention.  From his byline:

John John Hughes is editor and chief operating officer of the Deseret Morning News. He served a one-year term in 1995 as assistant secretary-general and director of communications at the United Nations. He is a former editor of the Christian Science Monitor, which syndicates this column.
Source: "Despite its flaws, U.N. well worth preserving," John Hughes, Deseret News, 12/8/2004.

Quite an interesting track.  A world socialist goes from the Christian Science Monitor to Kofi Annan's right hand man to pumping out pro-U.N. pieces as head editor of the LDS Deseret News.


Corporate Practices Versus Pulpit Speeches

LDS leaders preach that the Sabbath Day should be kept holy, and regularly chastises the community for engaging in frivolous commerce on Sundays.  Yet, the LDS church operates the "The Inn at Temple Square" on Sundays.  The Inn is managed by the "Temple Square Hospitality Corporation", which is managed by "Deseret Management Corporation", which again claims to be "a corporate holding company whose purpose is to oversee the commercial companies affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and is "upholding the values of and fostering the goals of their ownership."

The LDS Deseret News, KSL Channel 5 television, and numerous FM (including hard rock-and-roll and sports stations) and AM radio stations, continue their programming on Sunday — complete with paid commercial advertisements. See a listing of such stations.

Still, these are only private hypocrisies.  The real trouble starts in the public arena.  For instance, LDS leaders publicly asked for, and encouraged, quasi-governmental (i.e. tax-funded) TRAX employees to work on Sunday so that people could ride to LDS conferences and other activities during their general conference weekends.  They got their wish and TRAX is now running every Sunday at taxpayer expense.  Now, the presiding bishop of the LDS church is featured promoting TRAX on television commercials.
Sources: "TRAX schedule for LDS General Conference," Deseret News, 10/5/2002, and "TRAX Service Expanded for LDS Conference," KSL 5, 4/1/2005.

This flies in the face of the secret meeting and conversation former governor Michael O. Leavitt publicly claimed to have had with LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley:

"The LDS Church is a large constituent and deserves the same attention as any other constituent of its size, complexity and importance," said Gov. Mike Leavitt, himself an active member of the LDS Church.

When he had been governor only a few days, Leavitt requested a meeting with the leadership of the church. "And basically, what our conversation was, and it was Gordon B. Hinckley who said it: 'We have a relationship we'd like to propose. You run the state and we'll run the church.' Those were his words."
Source: "Pres. Hinckley has most clout," staff writers Lucinda Dillon and Bob Bernick Jr., Deseret News, 5/13/2001.

Utah used to commercially slow down government services on Sundays.  But once LDS leaders made a request, the state leaped to acquiesce, and exceeded their expectations.

Note: Under the same hypocritical reasoning, the LDS-dominated Utah state legislature passed a statute to force car dealers to stop selling cars on Sunday.  How is it consistent to allow wheel-and-deal business meetings to occur in the Inn at Temple Square on Sunday, but prevent small businessmen from selling cars on Sunday?


Solution: Hold ALL Men Equally Accountable

How is it possible for these religious leaders to escape scrutiny and accountability?  The answer is tragic. Current LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley echoes the very old doctrine that provides the very trademark and bedrock to enable political popery to occur:

"The strength of this cause and kingdom is not found in its temporal assets, impressive as they may be. Faith underlies loyalty to the Church." ("The Miracle of Faith," Ensign, May 2001, bold added)

"Now, brothers and sisters, let us go forth from this conference with a stronger resolve to live the gospel, to be more faithful, to be better fathers and mothers and sons and daughters, to be absolutely loyal to one another as families, and absolutely loyal to the Church as members." ("Good-bye for Another Season," Ensign, May 2001, bold added)

The LDS 12th Article of Faith, purportedly written by Joseph Smith (and contained alongside the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and Bible in their canonized scriptures) provides an accompanying political requirement for LDS members:

"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

Over 200 years ago, Americans wisely refused to subject themselves to kings and fought a bloody war to free themselves from bondage.  Amazingly, many of us have de-evolved and willingly placed these same shackles on ourselves.

Absolute loyalty to a king and organization can only be accomplished when one surrenders his conscience and places all hopes and trust upon other men — their individual and collective fallibility notwithstanding.  This, too, is a trademark of any religion whose leaders seek control.  Wilford Woodruff, the third President of the LDS Church, stated, for instance, that:

"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." (Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto, Doctrine and Covenants, under Declaration 1)

The April 2002 LDS General Conference provides another example (my note in brackets):

"One of the sneaky ploys of the adversary is to have us believe that unquestioning obedience to the principles and commandments of God is blind obedience. His goal is to have us believe that we should be following our own worldly ways and selfish ambitions. This he does by persuading us that 'blindly' following the prophets and obeying the commandments is not thinking for ourselves. He teaches that it is not intelligent to do something just because we are told to do so by a living prophet or by prophets who speak to us from the scriptures.
[My Note: This assumes that, without organized religion, man could not be either spiritual or interested in the well-being of others.]

"Our unquestioning obedience to the Lord's commandments is not blind obedience. President Boyd K. Packer in the April conference of 1983 taught us about this: 'Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God. . . . We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see'" — Elder Boyd K. Packer, "Agency and Control," Ensign, May 1983, 66).

The retorting e-mails attempting to dismiss and dispel the merits of my original e-mail message on this general subject hardly seemed written by LDS men and women who "see".  Those who "see" welcome debate without fear, and are grateful for the opportunity to participate and thereby expand their experience.

Here is another example from this same conference:

"We might call this 'faith obedience.' With faith, Abraham was obedient in preparing Isaac for sacrifice; with faith, Nephi was obedient in obtaining the brass plates; with faith, a little child obediently jumps from a height into the strong arms of his father. "Faith obedience" is a matter of trust. The question is simple: Do we trust our Heavenly Father? Do we trust our prophets?" — Elder R. Conrad Schultz, "Faith Obedience," April 2002 General Conference Report, Ensign)

And from LDS president Ezra Taft Benson, who is still venerated by many LDS members (and others) who consider themselves dedicated to freedom and to conscience:

"President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident, which happened to him: I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home... Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: 'My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.' Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, 'But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'" — Elder Ezra Taft Benson, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following a Prophet," given at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University, February 6, 1980; see also Ensign Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78 [bold added]

From the LDS-owned and -operated Deseret News newspaper and Improvement Era magazine:

"Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the prophets, seers, revelators' of the church, is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the lord's anointed... and retain the holy spirit in his heart. This sort of game is Satan's favorite pastime, and he has practiced it to believing souls since Adam. He [Satan] wins a great victory when he can get members of the church to speak against their leaders and to do their own thinking.

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God." (Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945; also included in the Improvement Era, June 1945) [bold added]

From Heber C. Kimball:

"In regard to our situation and circumstances in these valleys, brethren WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YE ELDERS OF ISRAEL, AND LIVE TO GOD and none else; and learn to do as you are told, both old and young: learn to do as you are told for the future, And when you are taking a position, if you do not know that you are right, do not take it [—] I mean independently. But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong... you and I want to live our religion and do as we are told, not questioning a word for a moment. You have got to stop that. It is enough for others to do that, without our meddling with those things. I am speaking to the Elders of Israel." — Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, pp. 32-33 [bold added]

Finally, LDS members who receive their temple endowment ceremony make a solemn covenant to avoid "evil speaking of the Lord's anointed," i.e. the LDS leaders.  To break that agreement is to invite damnation to one's soul.

Again, the manipulations, deceit, and corruption outlined throughout this article are in nowise unique to LDS officials or the LDS religious institution.  As organized religions grow and corruptible men gain power, it is natural to drift toward immorality and decay.

Americans must realize this and publicly stand up to their officials and hold them fully accountable for their actions — both in government and in private organizations, particularly recipients of special government dispensations like IRS 501(c)(3) status.  Our Creator demands that we seek such justice — men and their titles and affiliations notwithstanding.  Whether people worship a rock or an ideal is not particularly relevant, so long as their beliefs do not enable unscrupulous men to manipulate and destroy all that is good.  As uncomfortable and painful as it might be, we must reject the Animal Farm notion that "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

To do otherwise is to insult our Creator and the gift of freedom he bestowed upon us.  In America, we should be subject to only one King: our individual conscience, which is arguably indistinguishable from our Creator when we exercise sufficient courage to set aside our own sacred cows.

My personal departure from the LDS church and all organized religion came as a shock to many, particularly considering my serious and sober study of religious history, scriptures, and the teachings of historical and modern leaders. This article is a "coming out" of sorts as to why I willingly departed.

Remaining so associated, after knowing the facts shared in this article, would have made me complicit in these injustices and an enemy of the worst kind to the land I have always loved. It is my sincerest hope, for the sake of this land, that thousands, if not millions will see this document and realize the mortal ties that bind are indeed flaxen.



Addendum: Supporting Thought Crimes Quietly

I sent the following two messages to various e-mail recipients in response to the LDS church's involvement in the Utah thought crimes debate.  They provide one small example of the sleight of hand multi-tentacled religious organizations are capable of.

Message 2, sent on 2/21/2003:

Dear Friends,

In my previous message, I indicated that I had left a message with Dale Bills, LDS Church Spokesman, at the Public Affairs Department yesterday afternoon regarding a conversation he had with a prominent legislator (who will remain anonymous).  William "Bill" Evans, lobbyist for the LDS Church, returned my call today.  This is NOT an "expose," or an attempt to put the LDS organization in a "bad light."  I tried to be very fair.  What the church says or writes is the business of its members.  This message is merely an effort to, as gingerly as possible, consider that although the LDS Church admittedly takes few official positions in direct support of legislation, it definitely influences politics in our state, and we should take note of that impact.

1. Report of Telephone Discussion with Bill Evans on Feb. 20, 2003.
2.  Deseret News Editorial Board Supports HB 85.
3. Personal Observations & Additional Commentary.
4. Time to Seek Real Solutions to Crime & Bigotry.
5. Some Proponents of Thought Crimes Are Not Above Bigotry & Prejudice.

1. Report of Telephone Discussion with Bill Evans on Feb. 20, 2003.
Mr. Evans had read my email and, on a personal note, I initially detected some skepticism on his part with regard to my motives.  I hope that the tone of our conversation ended those feelings for him.  I believe we parted on thoughtful and friendly terms (he did invite me to call back any time).  I personally invite Mr. Evans to correct me if what I present here is inaccurate, unfair, or misleading in any way.  I will forward his comments to all who receive this message from me.

I spoke with Mr. Evans regarding the content of my initial email inquiry of a few days ago.  He confirmed that, as I had reported, he did call, among others, the legislator (Note 1) in question.  He freely admitted to making the call to this legislator and was open about the content of the message he verbally relayed to him.

According to Mr. Evans, Representative David Litvack, sponsor of House Bill 85, "Hate Crimes Amendments," asked the LDS church to take a position on the bill. (Note 2)  When the church came to a decision, Mr. Evans called Rep. Litvack and the leaders of both parties.  On behalf of the church, he relayed the following position:

"As currently drafted, we do not oppose House Bill 85."

I pointed out to Mr. Evans that this statement and his actions were likely giving a few definite impressions to members of the legislature.  As you recall, the legislator felt and expressed that, according to his experience, for the LDS lobbyist to pro-actively call him on this issue is an implication that the LDS church is actually in support of thought crimes legislation.

I pointed out that if, in fact, the legislator and potentially others were reading more into the statement and this action by Mr. Evans than was intended, would it not be helpful to his church to clarify the statement?  Could he not call the legislator and others and ensure that the LDS position and desires were not misrepresented?  I asked him what we might do to clarify this situation so that there would be no ambiguity or rumor.

He declined to take any action and stated that whatever this legislator concludes, based upon his past experience, is entirely up to him.

In additional conversation, Mr. Evans stated that if the church takes a position in support of a bill, they will explicitly say so.  However, he also explained that this rarely happens and the most they do is say that they are not opposed to a bill.

I was admittedly quite confused at this, and was trying to figure out what the people are supposed to understand by this.  Mr. Evans offered that he heard what I was saying and understood my concerns, but would not make any additional statement.

I asked him if he could simply state something to the effect that the church was also not implying support for the bill by their official statement.  He politely declined to make such a clarification.

I relayed to him that I desired clear answers to relay to the people on my list and that I wanted to fairly report on his responses and leave as little room for guesswork as possible.  I frankly told him that the responses he was giving, without further clarification, would likely also give the recipients the perception that the LDS church was, indeed, supporting HB 85.

He stated that he understood my frustrations, particularly as a non-member, but that he had nothing more to add.  He stated that what people conclude from the church position is up to them.  In his words, "What people do with it [the information] is their matter."  He felt comfortable that LDS people, in particular, would understand. (Note 3)

I asked briefly how the church had reached their decision (i.e. who decided), and how they typically reach decisions on issues like this.  He replied:

"I am not speaking on my own.  This is a position of the church.  It is an internal matter."

I asked if there were any general statement from the church on this particular issue.  He replied, "There is no general statement."  He did, however, quote for me the following statement from current President Gordon B. Hinckley:

"Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group." — "Why We Do Some of the Things We Do," President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, November 1999.

2. Deseret News Editorial Board Supports HB 85.
As I was working on this message, I learned of the Deseret News'  Editorial Board in yesterday's newspaper (see "Pass the hate crimes bill," at,1249,460029878,00.html)

If this, along with the previous message, does not imply support of HB 85, what are people supposed to seriously think about it?  In my opinion, this is a way of getting the word out that the LDS church is in support of thought crimes legislation without taking an official position in support of it.

3. Personal Observations & Additional Commentary.
On a personal note, after the business of the call was concluded, we talked personally and unofficially about my interest and involvement in this issue and my personal convictions regarding this particular bill and its general philosophy.  I had used the phrase ?thought crimes? and Mr. Evans did not appear to see how HB 85 could be interpreted as punishing thought.  He utilized the argument that this bill was simply punishing actions based upon bias and prejudice
— that it was not punishing the actual bias and prejudice itself.

I relayed to him my view that our wise founding documents and history of American jurisprudence only approach bias and prejudice in order to determine whether the crime was premeditated or showed malicious intent, not to punish based upon the mere presence of bias and prejudice.  I said that, in my opinion, to go beyond those limitations was to throw away the blindfold of impartiality that we put upon justice and to discard her scales of generality and uniformity.

I discussed the fact that this new approach would belittle and disregard victims whose crimes did not fall under the established hierarchy category of punishable philosophies and beliefs.  It would move court proceedings away from the tragedy of the victim and the actual crime, and into the belief processes of the perpetrator.  I opined that it would be divisive and would destroy, rather than bring together, community.

The exchange that particularly impacted me was when I stressed the fact that when a person is victimized, for whatever reason, the entire community is victimized.  That to judge one crime to be more egregious than another simply because the motivation is targeted at one sub-group of the human family, is to place both the victim and the perpetrator on unequal grounds before the law and before God.

I expressed most intently that there is only one group we need worry about: the entire human family.  To sub-divide the human family is to fracture the human family.  If there is currently a problem with not meting out sentences that fit the crime, we need to privately address it in the community among potential jurors and publicly address the quality of the judges who also decide upon sentences.

Mr. Evans stated, that he wished more people viewed the world and humanity that way.  I replied with essentially the following:

"But who then will relay that view of the world and humanity if the religious community will not?  Who will teach them that this is the right way to view mankind if the religious community will not step up and do it?"

Mr. Evans listened to my arguments, responded thoughtfully and respectfully, and expressed that I had presented thoughtful arguments that he would personally consider.  I may be mistaken, but in my opinion, I felt that he had heard something he had never before considered.  He seemed to be a real human being who reflected on the things I said.

This call profoundly impacted me.  It reaffirmed to me that not everyone has everything set in stone in their minds about how things should be.  The more phone calls we make to people like Bill Evans to educate them, the more aid we will all receive from a Higher Power.  We can never assume and take for granted that a men will always act in the best interests of society just because their position or title or organization says they will.  It is an unfair and unjust expectation and burden.  We are all far too fallible and imperfect to place that kind of trust in each other.

In a society where the majority of citizens are largely uninvolved or indifferent, one can almost understand why elected officials unwisely gravitate toward this type of legislation.  If elected officials can barely get people involved to present feedback on issues, naturally they won't expect that the people are capable of maintaining a fair judicial process.  Thought crimes legislation and its similar counterparts are nothing more than the result of legislators who have taken their role too seriously or have, in their impatience, sought out dangerous and reckless methods to resolve societal conflict.  If the desire is to remove hatred and bigotry from our society, it is not through legislation.  It is through religion and lifting the human spirit.   There is no bill that will do that.

4. Time to Seek Real Solutions to Crime & Bigotry.
If the sponsor, and co-sponsor of HB 85 really want to leave a legacy against hate and violence, I ask that they withdraw their bill and seek a more hopeful way.  Hate and violence is a concern, but I personally know there are many business and religious leaders who would like to be a part of a lasting solution.  I ask Rep. Litvak to head some effort of this nature and seek solutions that will work toward this effort.

You cannot seriously think that you can legislate love for your fellow man.  Government lacks the desire, warmth, and the power to change those hearts that would otherwise be inclined to be full of hate.  I assert that if the proponents of HB 85 continue to pursue this legislation, they are motivated by panic and fear.  These are not grounds for good legislation.

5. Some Proponents of Thought Crimes Are Not Above Bigotry & Prejudice.
It is interesting that as I have fought thought crimes legislation, I have already received personal attacks regarding my religious beliefs.  I have begun to feel some intimidation because of some of the philosophical and theological differences I have with the predominant religion.  In my case, I have not been able to face my accusers or clarify my beliefs or actions.  I am simply guilty.

In past e-mails, I have asserted that thought crimes legislation will only divide our community.  If I were seeking my own interests, I could see the personal benefit to rewriting the law so that I could go after a few people for  religious bigotry demonstrated this session.  But I know that such an effort would be wrong.

To me this is further evidence that it is just to fight this legislation.  Supporters of this thought crimes movement claim to loathe bias and prejudice.  Yet some are appear to be prepared to use it to attempt to silence opposition.  Imagine how horrible bigotry would become if we allow thought crimes legislation to take hold in our society.  I would hate to have these people sit on my jury in a court of law.  We mortals are simply not equipped to handle this burden.

The peaceful beauty of our traditional system of jurisprudence is that the accused is entitled to be judged by a jury of his peers who are assumed to be above the crime with which he is charged.  With thought crimes, no such presumption can be made, because we are all guilty of thinking ill of some one or some group at one time or another.

I would like to add that my relationship with God is not the business of self-seeking, self-serving men.  I have removed my personal religious website temporarily — not as a demonstration of fear, for I will continue to share my beliefs with anyone who asks.  But sincere feelings for God are not a spectacle for wolves with salivating chops to whisper over and quietly use as political cannon fodder.  I welcome dialogue with anyone on religion if we can at least share a love for God and in the attempt to find truth.

Daniel B. Newby
(801) 281-2670

1.  Some of you have requested that I reveal this legislator's name.  Frankly, based upon this information, I think it is fair to say that we don't know exactly what has taken place in the past that might justify this legislator's interpretation of Mr. Evans' message.  In addition, this inquiry is not about the legislator or punishing him, but rather about organizations that have an effect on the efforts of citizens.

2.  Rep. Litvak was saavy enough to realize that LDS backing of this bill would be worth seeking.  This implies to me that there has been enough history for legislators to recognize that LDS Church influence holds a heavy weight in the life or death of some legislation.

3.  I cannot speak to the reaction of LDS members with his statement, but it does not satisfy the concern that lawmakers who use the weight of LDS non-opposition as a ace in their pocket will gain an extra, and I believe unfair, advantage against opponents of the bill.

The preceding message was my personal opinion.  To receive an alert on this subject directly, email me at


Message 1, sent on 2/19/2003:


Yesterday, a prominent legislator (who I will keep anonymous) informed a citizen in his area that a Mr. Evans, lobbyist for the LDS church, had called and informed him that the LDS church will not take a position against the thought crimes legislation being run this session.

The prominent legislator felt that, according to his experience, for the LDS lobbyist to pro-actively call him on this issue implies that the LDS church is actually in support of thought crimes legislation (i.e. Democrat David Litvack's HB 85).

I am personally very dismayed that this LDS lobbyist has the time and motivation to call around on this particular issue and drop these implications.  Even more dismaying is that the LDS church would have more cause to make clear their position on thought crimes, but be silent on promoting concepts like the prohibition of taxpayer funding of abortion on demand (HB 123) — or the principles and Laws of God that are so clearly violated when we attempt to judge and punish people based upon their beliefs rather than their actions.

The subject of religion and churches can be particularly dividing for people.  I think this latest development is an excellent test.  Can the activists stay focused and together even though some of us, LDS and Non-LDS alike, feel that the LDS church has just tipped the scales in the favor of legislating thought crimes?  Will we stay together, and perhaps grow, if we know that there are some within the movement who feel that the LDS church hurts the conservative political efforts in Utah?  That LDS legislators who were already leaning toward supporting the bill will now feel it is perhaps a little more "divine" than they had even before supposed.

I hope so.  I think we need to be sensitive to the effects of influential organizations, religious or otherwise, and recognize that these effects will only put victory beyond our reach if we choose to allow it.

I located this person's contact information on the Lt. Governor's election website (available at

William Evans
Public Affairs Department
15 E. South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT  84150
(801) 240-3813

Registered to Lobby for the following Organizations:
Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints
Address: 47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84150 
(801) 240-1000, (801) 240-2033

I encourage and hope that you will call Dale Bills, LDS Church Spokesman, at the Public Affairs Department at (801) 240-2205, and find out exactly what happened for yourselves.  I attempted to reach Dale Bills earlier, but he was out to a meeting.  Also, please attempt to find out what their lobbyists are using to govern their selection of bills to support, oppose, and remain neutral on.  There is always the chance that these men don't realize how much damage they are doing.  Perhaps your call will help them to be more aware.

Below are several religious citations taken from the New Testament (King James Version), as well as the Book of Mormon that may be somehow helpful to you as you discuss this issue.

Daniel B. Newby
(801) 281-2670

P.S. The preceding message was my personal opinion.  To receive an alert on this subject directly, email me at


New Testament Citations

"...Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons..." — Acts 10:34, The New Testament

"...Call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work..." — 1 Peter 1:17, The New Testament

The New Testament portrays the distinct impression that God alone is qualified and empowered to judge crimes of thought:

"...He that searcheth the hearts..." — Romans 8:27, The New Testament

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!" — Romans 11:33, The New Testament

Book of Mormon Citations

"Now there was no law against a man's belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds? For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes.  Nevertheless, there was no law against a man's belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds." — Alma 30:7,11, The Book of Mormon

"Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief." — Alma 1:17, The Book of Mormon

According to the teachings of the Book of Mormon, laws against beliefs are not only unwise, but strictly contrary to the commands of the Creator.  As the Nephite King Mosiah attempted to transfer power from himself to a system of judges elected by the people, he further reinforced the assertion that God had inspired the Nephite system of laws:

"Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord." — Mosiah 29:25, The Book of Mormon



Addendum 2: Public Sponsorship of Gun Control

Former House Speaker Martin Stephens claimed to have participated with LDS church leaders in 1999 on gun control legislation [bold added]:

"While much work remains to be done, House Speaker Marty Stephens said Tuesday there is a possibility that lawmakers and citizens pushing a gun-control initiative can reach agreement -- and the initiative won't be needed after all."...

"But Tuesday, Stephens, R-Farr West, said he believes the guns-in-churches issue can be solved relatively easily.

"I've met with leaders of all denominations," Stephens said, and an informal agreement has been reached whereby the concealed weapons permit holders need permission from church officials to carry a gun on church grounds.

"That gets around the sticky issue of churches having to post signs saying "No Guns Allowed."

"Concealed weapons in schools is a harder issue, Stephens agreed.

"Basically, if wording can be found that will allow permit holders to carry their weapons on to school grounds to attend "approved" school functions and to take and drop off their children, Stephens said that, in concept, is something acceptable to him and perhaps to other members of the Utah House and Senate Republican caucuses."
Source: Deseret News, 9/28/1999.

Brigham Young University, which, like KSL 5 and the Deseret News (see topic 4), is owned and operated by the LDS Church, was listed by the now-defunct gun control group, "Utah Safe to Learn, Safe to Worship," as an official sponsor of the Utah Safe to Learn, Safe to Worship Initiative, which they attempted to run in 2000.  This initiative called for the following:

(3) A person with a permit to carry a concealed firearm [may not carry a concealed firearm] is subject to applicable civil or criminal law concerning the carrying or use of a firearm, including criminal law restrictions that prohibit carrying a firearm in [the following] certain locations including the following:...

(c) [in] any house or place of worship, [or in any private residence where dangerous weapons are prohibited] as provided in Section 76-10-530; [or]

(d) any area relating to schools, as provided in Section 53A-3-502 or Section 76-10-505.5;

This initiative failed miserably in 2000, even with BYU's support.  The LDS church then attempted to muscle a gun control amendment through the legislature. From GOUtah!, Alert #161 dated March 14, 2003, under their "Summary of the 2003 Legislative Session":

LOSS: SB 108. One part of SB 108 that's bad is an anti-gun amendment that was written by the LDS (Mormon) Church and was tacked onto the bill by Sen. Waddoups at the behest of a couple of local gun organizations. This amendment, in its original form, would have essentially enabled individual churches to ban concealed firearms without telling anyone about it. You would have had to possess ESP to know whether it was legal to carry in any given house of worship. This is one of the most bizarre pieces of legislation we've ever read.

Thanks to your letters and phone calls to legislators, the church amendment was eventually modified on the floor of the House of Representatives so that the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) will be required to maintain a list of churches in Utah that ban guns, and to display this list on the official BCI website (which means that you'll no longer need ESP to know what the law is for any given church, although you will need internet access). Furthermore, the amendment was modified so that churches that ban guns will have to renew their bans every year if they want to keep them in effect. However, churches will not have to post signs or otherwise clearly announce their gun bans (although they will still have the option of doing so). This means that every time you plan on visiting a house of worship in Utah, you'll need to check the BCI website to determine whether you can legally take your self-defense weapon with you. Furthermore, there is no deadline for BCI to post a given church's gun ban, and there is a 30-day period between the time that a church decides to ban guns and the time that the church has to inform BCI about this. Thus, strictly speaking, there is still no notification requirement hard-wired into the bill. Furthermore, even if churches were to promptly report their gun policies to BCI and BCI were to post them instantly, we still wonder whether this law would hold up in court. It is our understanding that posting on a web page does not in and of itself legally satisfy the requirements for promulgating a law.

GOUtah! reported a couple of months ago that two Apostles of the LDS Church had been telling the leadership of the state legislature that the Church was considering endorsing the anti-gun "Safe to Learn and Worship" ballot initiative. We have since come to believe that these Church leaders were doing this in order to persuade the legislature to pass some sort of bill that would enable the Church to ban guns in its houses of worship without having to post signs at the entrances. Although we do not know how serious the Church was at that time about actually carrying through with its threat to publicly support the ballot initiative, we believe that the leaders and attorneys at Church headquarters who were involved in this matter subsequently lost a considerable portion of whatever enthusiasm they may have had for the ballot initiative, thanks to your letters and phone calls to the Church's Public Affairs Office, as well as the efforts made by those of you who are active LDS Church members to talk to your bishops and stake presidents. Unfortunately, some other Utah gun groups were absolutely terrified that the Church would follow through with its threat to endorse the ballot initiative unless the Church's amendment to SB 108 passed. Only GOUtah! and Utah Gun Owners' Alliance (Sarah Thompson's organization) opposed this amendment.

If BYU was already in support of the Safe to Learn, Safe to Worship Initiative, then why would a public endorsement by the LDS church carry more weight?  This is part of the game played by ecclesiastical organizations.  If they come outright and state publicly what they want, they might lose some of their financial contributors and spiritual adherents.

Therefore, they prefer to rely upon the indirect influence of their media affiliates while pretending neutrality.  If that approach fails, they can count on their religious faithful who hold seats of power in the government.

The LDS Church's original mendment to SB 108 was slightly amended, and gun control bill SB 108 was eventually enacted.  Soon afterward, the LDS First Presidency issued the following command to LDS leaders and, by implication, to all LDS members [bold, underline, and note added]:

January 16, 2004

To: Area Presidencies, Area Authority Seventies, Temple Presidents, Stake Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in Utah

Dear Brethren:

Firearms in Houses of Worship

Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate except as required by officers of the law.

Utah law permits churches or other organizations operating houses of worship to prohibit firearms. Any person, including a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm, who knowingly and intentionally transports a firearm into a house of worship or who, while in possession of a firearm, enters or remains in a house of worship where firearms have been prohibited, is guilty of a crime. An exception will be provided for law enforcement personnel, as contemplated by law.
[Note: As the GoUtah! alert explains, foreknowledge is a tricky thing.  Particularly if you are a visitor from out-of-state, for instance, and are not familiar with Utah statutes.]

The church plans to invoke the Utah law and give public notice that firearms are prohibited in the church's houses of worship, including temples, meetinghouses, the Assembly Hall, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and the Conference Center. Scouting merit badge and other activities where firearms are legitimately involved should be held in facilities other than houses of worship.

Once such public notice is given, persons who bring firearms into a church house of worship should be informed of the church's position and politely asked to take their firearms to another safe location. Persons who refuse to take their firearms from the house of worship or repeatedly ignore the church's prohibition should be referred to local law enforcement officers for possible criminal prosecution. However, every reasonable effort should be made to avoid confrontation and to defuse emotional situations so as to prevent violence and misunderstanding. Questions regarding particular situations may be referred to the Church Security Department and the Church's Office of General Counsel at church headquarters.

Sincerely your brethren,
Gordon B. Hinckley
Thomas S. Monson
James E. Faust
The First Presidency

Historical Trivia: In addition to ordering men to bear arms and stand 24-watch over the Kirtland temple, Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the LDS church, stated the following:

"There is one principle which is Eternal, it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of their households whenever necessity requires. And no power has a right to forbid it." — Joseph Smith Jr. to his wife, Emma Smith, Carthage Jail, June 27, 1844. Source: The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1984, p. 611 (ISBN: 0-87747-974-7)

If "no power has a right to forbid it," why did the LDS church do so? Smith went on to state:

"...We feel to hope for the best, and are determined to prepare for the worst. And we want this to be your motto in common with us, 'that we will never ground our arms untill we give them up by death—' 'Free trade and sailors rights, protection of persons and property, wives and families.' If a mob annoy you, defend yourselves to the very last, and if they fall upon you with a superior force, and if you think you are not able to compete with them, retreat to Nauvoo... act according to the emergency of the case but never give up your arms, but die first...." — Joseph Smith Jr. to his Uncle John, Nauvoo, June 17, 1844. Source: The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1984, p. 591 (ISBN: 0-87747-974-7)

"I swear in the name of the Almighty God with uplifted hand the Legislature shall never take away our rights. I'll spill my heart's blood first." — Joseph Smith Jr., journal entry, June 30, 1843. Source: An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Inc. in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, p. 392 (ISBN: 0-941214-78-8)

Additional Information: Here is the Deseret News article announcing the LDS church's ban on guns:

Invoking a state law, LDS Church leaders are putting gun owners on notice
that the weapons are unwelcome in ward houses, temples and other church
facilities in Utah.

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said
in a written statement Friday that it had mailed a letter drafted Jan. 16 to
local-level leaders informing them of plans to follow "Utah law and give
public notice that firearms are prohibited in the church's houses of
worship, including temples, meetinghouses, the Assembly Hall, the Salt Lake
Tabernacle and the Conference Center."

Utah's 50,000 concealed weapons permit holders are allowed to carry their
guns "without restriction" except in previously designated places like
airports, jails and courthouses, which have other kinds of security.
The law also allows churches to adopt a no-guns policy but requires those
organizations to make such policies public.

Under the notification options put in law by legislators last year, churches
may publish their policies in a newsletter, bulletin, worship program or
newspaper of general circulation. Those that opt to do so must also register
with the state Bureau of Criminal Identification, which posts the names of
registered organizations on its Web site.

Churches may also publicize a no-gun policy through personal communication
to the permit holder, the posting of signs on a building or an announcement
from the pulpit.

"The (LDS) Church will register its position with the State Bureau of
Criminal Investigation and provide notice in the newspaper," the Friday
statement reads. Currently, only three churches - St. Paul's Episcopal
Church in Salt Lake City, Shepherd of the Mountain Lutheran Church in Park
City and the Summum Church of Salt Lake City - have registered with the

The decision by LDS leadership to register puts the church in compliance
with state law while at the same time setting the faith apart from other
denominations in the Salt Lake Valley that oppose the registration
requirement. In December, leaders from about two dozen religious
organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church,
said they believe that under the protections of the U.S. Constitution, Utah
has no jurisdiction to dictate how churches must handle such policy.

The LDS Church officials did not take a stand with other faiths in December,
saying at the time they had not determined their position, said Toni Marie
Sutliff, a member of the Episcopal Church's statewide lay leadership.

Sen. Mike Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, who carried the registration bill last
year, said he was not surprised by the LDS statement Friday and thought the
decision to register might pressure other churches into compliance.

"Now that the (church) with the greatest number of members in the state is
now doing it the way the state law stipulates, it will be hard for some of
the smaller ones to say, well, we're going to do it our own way," said
Waddoups. "It will make them appear even more out of touch with the people
of the state."

Waddoups was asked by Sutliff to revise state law to make churches protected
areas where guns are unwelcome. The senator declined.

Waddoups has said that although he agrees that a church is no place for a
gun, he also believes people have the Second Amendment right to protect
themselves. Churches would therefore have to provide the public with
security protections if legally defined as protected spaces like courts or

Sen. Karen Hale, D-Salt Lake, told the Deseret Morning News earlier this
week she is working on a bill to do so that would likely be introduced later
this legislative session.

Sutliff said Friday she is pleased with the LDS Church statement. She said
she believes LDS leadership decided to go public with a statement in part
because the church had a hand in drafting the 2003 registration legislation
and could not in good conscience then oppose it. LDS leaders usually refrain
from commenting on any matters of legislation unless they consider the issue
one of morality.

"I don't think it hurts us in terms of what we are trying to do," said
Sutliff. "It backs up our point that guns don't belong in churches. I don't
see this as a bad thing."

Nor is it a new stance for LDS leadership, which issued its first statement
to that effect in 1996, in the wake of a different gun debate on Capitol

"Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares
and concerns of the world," the 1996 statement read. "The carrying of lethal
weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate, except
as required by officers of the law."

Friday's statement included some nearly identical language but stressed that
it relates only to the issue of weapons and houses of worship and not other
frequently debated gun issues such as guns in schools or other public

Legislative leadership also expressed positive reactions to the church
statement. Senate President Al Mansell, R-Sandy, who in December expressed
disappointment that other churches would opt to ignore state law, said he
was pleased that the LDS Church had opted for compliance.

"I feel like they have made the right decision. Anytime you don't like a
law, the obligation isn't to disobey it but to get it changed," said
Source: "LDS bar guns at church: First Presidency will follow law and register prohibition," Jennifer Dobner, Deseret News, 1/24/04.




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