It’s Time For Politically Conservative Mormons To Follow Their Church On Illegal Immigration

I’ve written about this once in each of the last three years (here, here, and here), and as the Church’s position keeps getting clearer, the reactions of many of my fellow political conservatives keeps getting more hostile.  A posting on the Church’s official web site last week makes it clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors some kind of amnesty–including guest worker programs, at the very least–for illegal aliens. 

Conservatives in general may blanche at this, and they’re welcome to–their suspicions about the Church’s motives in this don’t hold water, anyway.  (Pandering to Hispanic populations?  If the Church wanted to pander to politically sensitive groups, we wouldn’t have recently offended everyone who supports gay marriage.  Between that issue and this one, now we’ve alienated everybody!)

But for those of us who accept the divinity of the LDS Church’s claims and the authority of its leadership, there should be no argument.  In too many comments on other blogs and quotes in other news articles, conservatives are bristling about this to the point of rebellion.  (One article I saw about this quoted a man saying that he knew of people who were cutting back on paying their tithing because of this.)

Someone outside our church might ask, “You’re willing to sell out your political principles just because your church wants you to?”  To which I’d reply, “Yes.  Absolutely.  If I believe what I say I believe, what else should I do?  I’m happy for a chance to sacrifice something important to me so I can follow the Lord.”  In things like this, the real question isn’t, “Is the Church’s opinion right?”  It’s, “Is the Book of Mormon true?”  If so, then the leaders of this church are prophets, inspired by Jesus Christ in their work.  That’s good enough for me. 

In our last General Conference in October 2010, two unrelated speakers each based their remarks on the same, old address: Ezra Taft Benson’s “Fourteen Fundamentals In Following The Prophet” (here and here).  A coincidence like that is never a coincidence, I think.  Clearly, we were supposed to pay attention to this teaching.  Some of those fourteen principles included:

“Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

“Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

“Sixth: The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture.

“Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

“Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.

“Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.

“Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.”

I strongly suspect that it was we conservatives who were being prepared here.  It would be a stupid tragedy if anyone’s faith or activity suffered because they disagreed with something the Church was doing in the civic realm.  To those who might be tempted to react that way, I’d plead: Pray for strength to swallow your pride and accept the blessings that come through obedience and sacrifice. 

I don’t know how this will all work out, but I trust that it will be for the best.

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10 comments on “It’s Time For Politically Conservative Mormons To Follow Their Church On Illegal Immigration

  1. Didn’t realize the church had taken a stance one way or the other, but honestly, I’m all for it. Yes, I’m conservative, no I don’t think it should be “us vs them.”

  2. Your post begs the question we all must ask ourselves continually; are we Conservatives first or children of God and members of the church before all else.

    If I’m not mistaken you posted a similar post a little over 6 months ago. You’ve chosen the right (as in righteous) stance by aligning yourself with the Brethren on immigration. Its clear that even though the markers laying out the church’s position were clear years ago, this was a slow, deliberate conversion for you.

    No matter, however long it took I for one am thrilled to have you in the fold.

  3. A very interesting and very well written point. Far to many saints cherry pick what they will believe and when they will believe it.
    Yes we all have aspects of the gospel we struggle with, but the difference is we should recognise its us that struggle with the principal, not that the principal is wrong. As I read LDS authored blogs is sad how often they are critical of, or off base from basic doctrines and so many are caught up in various conspiracy theories, so It was warming to read your voice of truth, thankyou for posting

    RJRDaydreamer

  4. Thanks for the feedback, guys.

    Ken, the “fold” here is purely those who sustain the Church and its leaders, not any political position in and of itself, and certainly not any political ideology or party–right or left. And don’t be too hard on those who aren’t aware of the Church’s position yet–this is the first real application or legislation that they’ve gotten behind, and it hasn’t become a big deal yet.

  5. Good advice Huston. You know me well enough by now to know chilling is not something I’m very good at.

    My point is following the brethren on political and social issues requires 3 to 5 minutes every day to scan the headlines and read pertinent articles in both SLC dailies with an emphasis of course on the Deseret News, the church owned paper.

    Over the past 15 years I’ve been able to make the same transition you just made on every political and social issue that has come down the pike. The markers indicating the church’s positions are out there in plain sight for anyone to see.

    The observation I’ve made however is most of us don’t want to see the markers or aren’t willing to put in the effort it takes to understand the church’s position and instead choose to follow political leaders in DC who painstakingly condense their direction into easy to understand/follow soundbites.

    Call me a liberal, a radical, a ‘commie’, I’ve even had a member of the 70’s in my ward call my political views ‘unpopular’, whatever that means. It simply doesn’t matter. Me, I’ll just continue to do my humble best to follow the prophet, welcoming any and all who wish to join me along the way.

  6. Either support the ‘divinely inspired’ Constitution ( rule of law), the 13th Article of Faith-or eliminate both. Illegal immigrants cannot, with clear concience, concede they ‘honor, obey and sustain the law of the land”, in order to be baptized or attend the Temple.Their mere presence maeans they have trespassed ( a misdemeanor); they have falseified government documents (SSN and Drivers License) -felonies. The church cannot have it both ways.

  7. So as a conservative who doesn’t agree with the Churches stance, I still find it acceptable for the Church to have an opinion I don’t agree with.

    I think, Huston, that if you were honest with yourself and us, you would have to admit that the church has not “told anyone to change their opinion” or to “vote a specific way.” The Church is currently teaching principles about how we follow Jesus Christ by loving our neighbor, by strengthening families, and recognizing that nations have the right to enforce its laws and secure borders. Nowhere does the church say that Church members must “embrace the Utah compact” in order to be following the prophet.

    There are a number of logical fallacies associated with what the church has stated here. And as the current statements seem to fall in the policy/opinion stage (I haven’t seen a press release announcing a revelation from God to the president of the church…) I think I’m scripturally justified in sticking with the principles I grew up with and was taught on my mission.

    You, and the liberals of the Church, should work on recognizing how their interpretations of the Church’s statements are not neccesarily what the statements say. For instance, those who insist on interpreting the first statement as “Since illegal immigrants are our neighbors, we can’t possibly continue to have immigration laws.” I call hypocrite on this interpretation. I could just as easily say, “You have no right to lock your door and keep your possessions from getting stolen, Jesus said love your neighbors, and anyone who wants to steal your property is your neighbor, who are you to withhold your property from them!!!”

    I think the church was wrong to use the argument of, “We shouldn’t separate families.” Without placing some sort of limiter on this statement, it can, (and logically should) be taken to the extreme to show how absurd this argument is. “Bernie Madoff shouldn’t go to jail, because, he’s a father, and parents shouldn’t be separated from their children even if they break the law.” Well, while American born children from illegal immigrants have a constitutionally granted right to be in the United States, their parents simply do not. Their parents still have a choice, to remain illegally in the US and chance being forcibly departed and separated from their children, or choosing to go to their country of origen, and have the guarunteed right to remain with their children. This bad logic could also be used against the Church, “Well, temple recommend holding children have the right to be married in the Temple, and their parents should be allowed to witness that, therefore, a church that truly believes in loving families and keeping them together should allow their parents into the temple to see the marriage, or at least permit a non-temple wedding without punishing the couple by making them wait a year for sealing in the US.” Really, just bad logic on this point. Sorry, but breaking the law weakens families and damages society too. Teaching entitlement also weakens families and damages societies, and this is just one point where we disagree with what is truly best for society.

  8. Now let’s turn to the 14 fundamentals talk. {begin cringing}
    1.) It had not been delivered in a GC by Elder Benson (who was not prophet when he gave it). It was given at a BYU devotional. As talks are not submitted for vetting beforehand, I don’t have to accept either of these seventies as having TSM’s approval of their talks. Finally, the first time the talk was given, it is amazingly vague and incomprehensible, and the “quoting” of it didn’t make it any clearer.

    “The Prophet will never lead the Church astray.” OK, what does that mean? The prophet will never say something that isn’t true? Demonstrably false. (JS people who live on the moon, JSF, man will never get to the moon). The Prophet will never teach a false doctrine? Demonstrably false. (Adam God theory anyone?). The prophet will never be fooled by anyone, (Salamander letters, Mark Hoffman). My personal understanding of this statement, I can agree with, and since the Prophet himself has never clarified what this statement means, I feel free to believe it. “The prophet will not lead the church to destruction. Mistakes have been, and will be made, but God’s grace is great enough to cover them. The prophet won’t drastically lead the church into the wrong, but the prophet certainly can (and has, and will) make mistakes. That’s what it means to not believe in infallability.”

    “Fifth” I still expect I’ll learn better chemistry from chemists, and I’ll learn better religion from him. A prophet may speak on any subject at any time, just like I can. What I say about any subject isn’t promised to be correct, and neither is what a prophet says. Saying otherwise would imply some form of infallability, which I’m pretty sure the church has never claimed.

    “The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture.” Nope, and neither does other member of the Church. Anyone who speaks in the Church, when moved upon by the Holy Spirit, speaks and gives us scripture. However, binding Canon comes through a canonization process whereby the prophet brings forth a revelation, which he claims as such, and the entire church votes to sustain it as binding upon them. Then the inspired “scriptures” becomes “Scripture.” No other member of the church is authorized to receive “Scripture” for the church, only the prophet. Elder Benson was not the Prophet when he gave this talk, nor did he ever have his own statements canonized, something that should be kept in mind.

    “Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.” Yup, and sometimes so does our doctor, and sometimes so does the nightly news. All three also sometimes give us information which is not correct. Until we receive some revelation that states that a prophet will never be incorrect, this point is kind of incomplete, acontextual, and rather moot.

    “Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.” True and false. Sometimes the truth a prophet teaches is not limited by men’s reasoning and sometimes it is. We’ve never received a revelation that a prophet is above ever having mortal understanding. We’ve received stripture which tells us that God’s reasoning is never limited by mortal understanding, and I believe God can communicated through prophet without losing to limited mortal understanding via revelation, but I also feel a prophet needs to be accountable, and state, “This is a revelation from God.” rather than, “I feel the following.” Great, I’m glad you feel that way, but if I want to believe you are in communion with God (which I sincerely do want, please make it a little more than a feeling if you want me to feel obligated).

    “The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.” As can every other human on this planet. We receive revelation for our sphere (our lives, our families) and the prophet can receive revelation for the church, when the Lord gives him a revelation. Should the prophet say that he’s received a revelation, I’ll probably give it more heed than sending a figure-head who has little scriptural clought on doctrinal matters, the presiding bishop.

    “The prophet may be involved in civic matters.” Yes, and I think we do basically expect him to. But what does “involved” mean. Voting? Sure. The prophet should do his civic duty and vote. Does it mean more than that? I’ve never heard (or read) a prophet declare what exactly it means to “be involved in civic matters.” I expect him to vote, theoretically, I guess he could receive a revelation telling me that I need to change my political viewpoints, but he should be honest, and forthright about it. He should go public, and announce whether it is his opinion or a revelation from God. I hope you respect that I feel bound to his revelation, but not to his opinion.

    It would also be good to point out that the Prophet at the time this talk was delivered didn’t like it. Spencer W. Kimball felt that the talk promoted an unthinking follow the leader type of mentality, Huston, something you seem to be promoting as well. That’s not good for a teacher to do, IMO.

    …even the prophet at the time (Spencer W. Kimball) had some misgivings about it–especially how it seemed to promote an almost unthinking “follow the leader” mentality. Despite the controversy it generated when it first appeared, it managed to slip into General Conference, now to be accepted uncritically by the masses since it came from the mouth of two witnesses– surely it’s a sign from God!

    President Kimball’s reaction to Elder Benson’s 1980 BYU talk can be found in “Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball” by Edward L. Kimball (Deseret Book, 2005) pp. 160-161.)

  9. DBowers and Psychochemiker, we could hash out the details of what we are and are not obligated to follow as members of this church, but why would we want to? Isn’t the whole point of discipleship to be as close to the Church as possible? Doesn’t it worry either of you to be saying things like “The Church is wrong” or “I don’t have to agree with the Church about everything?” Does that attitude ultimately get people closer to God, or does it more often end up putting greater distance between us and Him?

    Let me put it this way: our goal is to establish Zion. A major part of that is developing perfect, Christlike unity. Christ’s unity with the Father is one of total, obedient submission to Him, who Christ always acknowledged as His superior. That perfect unity will only be achieved by Latter-day Saints not as we harrangue each other about our ideas and judgments, but as we all practice sublimating our own wills and drawing nearer to the standard errected by our leaders.

    Consider Elder Christofferson’s October 2008 General Conference address, where he said, “We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives and follow those He has commissioned to lead us.”

    Maybe we can justify having a difference with the Church and maybe not, but that should be irrelevant. Unity is the goal, and that means that we will all need to change to the degree that we are out of step with the Lord’s church.

  10. A big thumbs up to you for this post and your subsequent handling of the commentators. You’re showing real integrity! Are we all children of the same Father or not?

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