Saturday, October 31, 2009
Much has been said of late concerning liberal Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's(*) stance in the Mormon church vis-à-vis his political philosophy. For those not familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the church maintains political neutrality. Every election cycle members of the church--via letters read in meetinghouses across the nation from the ranking "First Presidency" of the church--are advised be responsible and informed citizens in their communities, but not to use the Church in any means for direct political advocacy.
Nevertheless, the question has been raised this week by the Salt Lake Tribune of how the Church can allow a member with such blatant Socialist philosophies such as Harry Reid to be allowed full privileges in the Church. This is because the church has consistently allowed membership to be predicated on personal testimony and adherence to moral guidelines and excluded the promotion of Socialism from that list of requisites for worthy membership. Unless the Church reforms its membership guidelines, we recognize Harry Reid as a worthy member of the Church though we stand strongly against the vast majority of his efforts and political tenants.
This is not to say the Church has been silent on the evils of Socialism. Indeed Ezra Taft Benson, a past President and Prophet of the Church, was one of the most vocal leaders in his denunciation of Socialism. Last month, a favorite blogger of ours--True Politics USA--had these well-sourced articles on these past denunciations by LDS (or Mormon) leaders: Ezra Taft Benson describing socialism, Conference definitions of socialism, and Prophetic Quotations on Politics. True Politics even had a enlightening discussion with us on Why don't LDS prophets discuss socialism more today?
Although Church leaders do not denounce the word Socialism today, there is much talk on the "evils of a dole." For example in an April 2007 discourse in the Church's worldwide General Conference, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton who oversees the temporal affairs of the Church, quoted past Prophet Heber J. Grant (founder of the Church's respected welfare program) as saying: "Our primary purpose was to set up … a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and in-dependence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people." Indeed, a search on the Church's online "Gospel Library" for the term "dole" reveals 91 citations of the term, none of which are done so in a favorable light (...and none refer to "Bob Dole" either, ROFL). Included in these "dole" articles is one by James E. Faust, who as a member of the high ranking group "Quorum of the Twelve" sustained as prophets of the church and as a former leader of the Utah Democratic Party stated in an October 1982 General Conference address: "It [giving a full day’s work for a full day’s pay] will also help us avoid accepting government doles which rob us of our dignity and our self-respect."
To us it is evident that the Church is manifestly against government handouts or doles and Socialistic ideals. Surely Harry Reid's proposed healthcare bill in Congress is a dole and a Socialistic ideal to give a handout, grow government largess, and does not promote independence and self-reliance. The bill includes taxes taking money out of our hands, our neighbors hands, and our current and future posterity's hands to support it--$1T worth of money! We furthermore decry the lack of constitutional support for such a nationalized healthcare plan! Although the Church hasn't spoken out directly against the bill (and would likely not do so), it indubitably would be in keeping with the teachings of the church if it so chose to do so.
*A genealogical footnote: For the record we have no traceable genealogical link going back several generations to Harry Reid (or for that matter two other notable Mormons with that surname: Andy Reid and Roger Reid; indeed historically, our Reid progenitors were hardshell-Baptist and likely anti-Mormon having migrated into lands immediately vacated by the Mormons fleeing Missouri Governor Boggs'(D) infamous extermination order).