The Church in a New Hostile America

Never since the earliest days has the LDS Church been in such danger of persecution by a mass of Americans. The same can be said about the danger of governmental punishment from the time of the polygamy trials. Unlike the mentioned examples where the religious were the instigators, secularists are in command and faith itself is in the crosshairs. This time no one who believes in God and attends church will be spared. Worst case scenarios have Christians going underground like in China to worship, if the modern interpretation of the religious clause is brought to its logical conclusion. Religation to absolute privacy is not freedom; its house arrest. There are some possible changes coming to how the LDS Church operates in this increasingly hostile secular new United States. Some are already in practice where secularism has completely taken over.

There is no need to rehearse where the danger comes from the most. Anyone can look at the current headlines about the U.S. Supreme Court’s biggest case of the year. For those who wish to criticise any “the sky is falling” concerns, a reasonable person should read what Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli said in response to Judge Alito’s question:

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax ­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­-sex marriage?

General Verrilli: You know, ­­I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.

Although the question refers to a college, it can easily apply to a Church since the university is a privately held religious institution. It wouldn’t take a leap to translate into any private institution with tax exempt status. For many religions the university is an extension of the church and not a side project. I am sure that Brigham Young University’s varied campuses are seen in that light by the LDS leadership, who on more than one occasion has stated it outright. Calling it “The Lord’s University” is more than a silly saying to be mocked. Those might be the first casualties. Continue reading

I Shall Not, I’m Mormon

tencommandmentsLocated at the LDS Church website is a short video and comment about The Ten Commandments given by God to Israel through the Prophet Moses. Often it seems that those who don’t know Mormons, and some who do, have this idea that the faith has too many rules and regulations. Most importantly that somehow the religion is different from all the others in the approach to ethics and commandments. Some have said there are over 100 commandments that Mormons must follow. There is some truth to these opinions because the Western World has changed over the years. What is expected of people today is far less than what was taught before the social revolutions back a generation. Yet, understanding the required behaviors for a believing Mormon isn’t that hard.

The first recognition is that Mormons are not Eastern Quakers or Catholic Nuns and Monks. It is taught that a person should live in the world, but not of the world. That means participating in life; going to work, getting married, going to school, raising children, etc. Life is not about a cloistered existence. That leaves a lot of room for what a Mormon can do in this world. As one blog noted about living the standards of the faith, ” “There may be lots of rules and guidelines but these aren’t rocket science. Its simple things like get enough sleep, wear appropriate clothing. If you ask me…. Being Mormon is easy. The world is hard!”

What are the Mormon standards they are asked to live with as a believer? It starts with a basic list that can be found in the Bible of all places. In the book of Exodus Chapter 20 the list includes:

. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4).

3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

4. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

5. “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12).

6. “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).

7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).

8. “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16).

10. “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17).

At the very least this list is the most basic of guidelines to be followed. In case any of the above was missed in the first reading, these 10 Commandments are found in Mosiah 13, where the question is asked why those who teach it don’t follow them? Continue reading

No Doubt to Know

girlthomasTrying to find a way with Scriptural understanding to reconcile the honest search for Truth and the spiritual destructiveness of unbelief, I found that doubt is not a positive attribute. As described by prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ, doubt is the enemy of faith. Unbelief is slightly worse because of a more concrete condition of the mind and heart, but they are both related to each other. Doubt doesn’t lead to faith. It destroys it by leading to questioning everything; even miracles that we participate in by the Grace of God.

The one instance when doubt brought greater understanding was Acts 10:17 after Peter received his vision of the unclean animals. Religiously speaking, it was a weak doubt because he had complete confidence the vision was real. He simply wondered, “what this vision which he had seen should mean,” and pondered for an answer. His faith in the vision was rewarded with a missionary opportunity to baptise a gentile. He then realized in Acts 10:28 that, “it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” The use of the word “doubt” in this instance might be the wrong choice of words, when “wondered” might be more appropriate.

Despite modern definitions and meanings, to doubt is not the same as questioning. It is natural and even required by Scripture that we should question. No one can discover truth without inquiring with mind and spirit where it can be found. How we are to question is important to properly growing in faith. There is a form of action involved that goes beyond the intellectual curiosity. It reads in 1 Thes. 5:21 that believers should, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” As always, Jesus Christ explained how this is to be done while teaching at the Temple. His teachings became a source of astonishment to the people attending because he had no formal intellectual training. They asked him how he could know so much without the proper school education and he responded in John 7:16-17 that, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” and “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” He is teaching that the way to discern spiritual things is to follow what God has already taught. This idea is emphasized in verse 19 when he asks, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” Those who do not follow the basic teachings of God cannot comprehend deeper truths and will be stuck with their questions. Continue reading

The State of “Orthodox” Mormon Blogging

hands-computer-828898-galleryEven before the official founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormonism has been using the most up to date communication technologies to spread the gospel. A particular viewpoint has been the incredulity that a highly successful new religious tradition started in the days of the printing press. Even more amazing is that it was printing, especially in the form of a new Holy Book called The Book of Mormon that contributed to its development. This was followed by newspapers and pamphlets that contained apologetics, sermons, information for the scattered members, and even new revelations. It was an amazing achievement of audacity and organization. The same can be said about its embrace of radio and television when they became widely available.

Modern times continues forward progress with the Internet, and the LDS Church is still utilizing the most advanced methods of communication in existence. It was one of the first religious organizations to develop a fully functional web site dedicated to connecting with members and spreading its teachings. This has been recognized with some regularity by those who pay attention to such things. Despite the belief that the Internet has been eroding the faith of Mormons, factual studies have shown that the LDS Church is still growing and retains more of its membership after young adulthood than most other religions. More can be done, but that is up to individuals who have been commanded since President David O. McKay that every member should be a missionary.

when I first started blogging ten years ago, my main concern was that very few “orthodox” members had a website worthy of reading. My own Straight and Narrow Blog, now a clearing house of my posts from other sources, had a mission statement goal to be a conservative voice among a large and loud liberal “un-orthodox” bloggernacle. I had hoped to be an example to start a trend for better and more thoughtful defenders of the traditional faith views. Comparing that time to today, there has been improvements in “orthodox” Mormon blogging. Unfortunately, the majority come from those who found one another and not to a lot of growth in blog numbers. Keeping up a blog is hard and too many come and go that could have survived if given support, even though other factors do contribute. Perhaps after ten years the idea of a strong, influential, and vibrant conservative “orthodox” blogging community is of limited possibility. Continue reading

What the LDS Church Really Says about Reading Anti-Mormon Literature

flier-clipart-ar130411564061063Those members less inclined to know the history of the LDS Church, especially the more complicated parts, express concerns that they were told to keep away from reading non-faithful material. They claim to have been taught to always turn to Church sanctioned material only and avoid non or anti-Mormon literature. No doubt there has been warnings of the harmful effects of the less than official sources, but an outright ban is a misreading of many lessons taught. The message isn’t always clear because opinions on just how to approach anti-Mormonism is mixed. There is no one single set of standards how to engage or respond. What is consistent over the years is the warning and how to be careful.

Learning is an essential part of growing in the Kingdom of God. The subject matter that we should focus on is very wide. We read in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 77-80 how open: Continue reading