At the Washington Post website, self-styled Mormon Girl Joanna Brooks has a piece on what progressive Mormon women want in context of the upcoming presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. (link) She pulls into it a First Presidency Message by Spencer Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” which appeared in the Ensign 36 years ago:
Progressive Mormon women remember that in 1976, LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball warned members of the church that Americans had become a “warlike people” who “idolized” military and industrial power at the expense of human welfare.
President Kimball did address idolatrous militarism in three striking paragraphs which have been much repeated in the decades since. I wasn’t quite sure, though, what Sister Brooks was referring to regarding “the expense of human welfare.” President Kimball wanted idolatry to be replaced by the preaching of the gospel, service, repentance, baptism, and eternal life—probably not the sort of human welfare that Brooks’ readers would have understand her to be alluding to.
Militarism wasn’t the only of the “dark and miserable practices of men” that President Kimball preached against in that June 1976 Ensign:
The Brethren constantly cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind, body, and our surroundings; against vulgarity, stealing, lying, pride, and blasphemy; against fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and all other abuses of the sacred power to create; against murder and all that is like unto it; against all manner of desecration.
That such a cry should be necessary among a people so blessed is amazing to me. And that such things should be found even among the Saints to some degree is scarcely believable, for these are a people who are in possession of many gifts of the Spirit, who have knowledge that puts the eternities into perspective, who have been shown the way to eternal life.
[Also posted at Junior Ganymede.]