Is this billboard appropriate?

On Friday March 30, this billboard will appear next to I-15 in Orem. The billboard urges people to go to a web site www.warlikepeople.com, where they can read prophetic statements like this, written in the middle of World War II, by the First Presidency:

“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace . . . ” (D&C 98:16) Thus the Church is and must be against war. The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.

My question is very simple: is there any thing wrong with LDS people getting together and putting up such a billboard?

Note: I am not asking whether you agree with the sentiment. I am not asking whether you think the promoters of this billboard are annoying and way too political. I am asking: is there anything wrong with this?

Hopefully we can all agree that it should be legal to put up such a billboard. The issue is: it is immoral or wrong in any way?

I am friends with a number of people, whose opinions I respect greatly, who say promoting such a billboard is wrong. Their basic opinion is: it is unseemly to use prophetic words to promote a political agenda. The people behind this billboard are opposed to Mitt Romney’s foreign policy and support Ron Paul’s candidacy. The position of people opposed to the billboard is that its supporters are wrongly using prophetic words to support a specific ideology.

I can see a small bit of truth in the complaints. Would Spencer W. Kimball want his words on a billboard? I can see the argument that he would prefer his words not be expressed in this way.

The position of the people who made the billboard is clear: they want to provoke Latter-day Saints to take another look at our foreign policy. They believe Latter-day Saints of today, who overwhelmingly supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are too quick to accept aggressive war. There is a difference between complete pacifism, which the backers of the billboard to NOT accept, and opposition to non-defensive wars. The promoters of the billboard support defensive wars (the United States should fight back if attacked) but oppose wars in foreign lands like our adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are our possible action in Syria and Iran.

I am having a tough time completely understanding the opposition to this billboard among my LDS friends. One commenter I know pointed out that we are encouraged to be engaged in political issues. It is also true that we should apply the Book of Mormon to our thoughts today. So, it is OK to study these things. It is OK to share our thoughts with our friends. It is OK to express these thoughts on a blog. But all of the sudden it is NOT OK to express such thoughts on a billboard, using your own money?

I am open to the idea that putting such a message on a billboard could be wrong, but I remain unconvinced.

Things to think about: would it be wrong to put up a billboard quoting the Brethren on gay marriage? Would it be wrong to put up a billboard reminding people to read the Book of Mormon? How about a bumper sticker: would it be wrong to put a bumper stick on your car that says, “We are a Warlike People?” Or more simply: “Renounce war and proclaim peace?”

At the end of the day, people opposed to this billboard mostly strike me as people opposed to the message of the billboard. What they really want to do is point out that they disagree with the anti-war sentiment expressed there. In addition, they do not like the hyper-political nature of the billboard’s proponents. But I could be wrong. Is there a good case to be made that this billboard is inappropriate?

Warming to commenters: alternative viewpoints are welcome and encouraged (that is the purpose of this post). However, personal attacks will be swiftly deleted. Make your argument calmly.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

177 thoughts on “Is this billboard appropriate?

  1. It seems to me it would only bother people who are concerned about views different than their own. If someone doesn’t agree with the billboard or its message, then let the discussion begin.

    There is a strange impulse in many people to want to silence views they don’t like.

  2. I’m still trying to figure out how this billboard is inappropriate. Why would it be a problem for anybody, LDS or not, to remind those of the same faith to remember something that a prophet said?

  3. “At the end of the day, people opposed to this billboard mostly strike me as people opposed to the message of the billboard.” – yeah, pretty much

  4. This has already attracted press attention, since it gives the press a chance to criticize Mitt Romney.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/on-utah-billboard-a-mormon-challenge-to-romney

    In principle I see nothing wrong with Mormons discussing the
    political implications of what the prophets have said.

    The problem with what Boyack is doing is that its basically an
    attention-getting device to get publicity from the mainstream press.
    So it uses Mormon on Mormon jibes as a means to an end of publiciziing
    a political ideology.

  5. Anything that will get people to read and think about the scriptures and the words of the prophets seems like an overwhelmingly good thing. The billboard is is just a question and the website is just quotes from prophets and scriptures. To me that is very tasteful and gives people the chance to come to their own conclusions by thoughtful, prayerful study. We should ask ourselves tough questions regularly. I have always found that true principles stand up to scrutiny.

  6. I should note that I’ve already argued this issue in email with both Mike Parker and Geoff B., and they both know I have objections that aren’t just political opposition to the political message here. I hope they lack of good faith they show in ignoring those conversations isn’t endemic to this project.

  7. I’m also concerned about the people behind this project, principally Connor Boyack. If we have to have a Mormon-on-Mormon fight about politics and our religions, I’d rather its principal spokesman not be someone who thinks Lincoln was a tyrant and the Civil War was wrong.

  8. Personal opinion: the means of modern
    political conflict, advertisement, publicity campaigns, billboards,
    buttons, and all the rest, are not an appropriate way for the Saints
    to work out the political implications of our doctrine.

    I don’t like Mormons using slogans and soundbites to argue with each other on what is the Mormon position on politics. The words of the prophets do not have a straightforward application to politics that can or ought to be condensed into a slogan. And slogans are all that fits on a billboard.

    I don’t want soundbite political Mormonism. I think its wrong in itself, but it also lends itself way too readily to
    starting with a political ideology and then looking for “Mormon” arguments and prophet quotes to persuade Mormons. Which is dishonest and treats Mormonism as a means to a political end. Whereas, on almost every issue that I can think of, if you take Mormonism in all its complexity as your jumping off point, you are not going to easily arrive at controversial political
    slogan conclusions without importaing assumptions from outside Mormonism.

  9. Would that we ALL were as active as Connor and others in this movement have been in promoting, defending, and befriending the cause of liberty, the Constitution, and our inalienable rights. I try to do what I can, but I come nowhere close. Keep up the good work, Connor. Love ya, brother.

  10. I’m going to go ahead and wager you wont find anyone who understands the constitution who thinks Lincoln WASN’T a tyrant and thinks the Civil War was a great idea.

  11. I notice that the people least concerned about the billboard are the ones who like its political perspective. Does this mean their opinions don’t count? Questioning people’s motives is a game two can play.

    I would be less concerned about a
    billboard about gay marriage or gambling or religious freedom, since
    these are three political issues where (1) we have pretty
    straightforward messages from the prophets without conflicting or
    ambiguous advice, (2) we have messages from the current prophets, not prophets from last century (3)
    the Saints are mostly onboard, so there’s less danger that you’re
    setting yourself up as a more righteous minority tasked with rebuking
    the wayward majority or causing contention, (4) you don’t have the appearance of speaking
    for the Church on a subject that the Church itself has not
    contemporaneously chosen to speak about and (5) you aren’t taking on
    Mitt Romney to attract the mainstream media to your cause the with
    delicious spectacle of Mormon on Mormon contention.

    However, for all these reasons, no one is likely to put a billboard on the subject either. The controversy is the point.

    For a number of political causes that I strongly support,
    these conditions don’t obtain, so I wouldn’t support a Mormon
    billboard campaign. It would be wrong, IMHO, to put up a billboard
    with a Capt. Moroni picture and the line ‘Protect Our Wives and
    Children against Iranian Terrorist Nukes. Go to
    http://www.stopIrannukes.com.” I’d probably even say the same about
    abortion, which is probably the political issue I feel strongest about
    and where the Church’s counsel as a moral matter is unequivocal and
    where what statements we do have on the political question tend to be
    supportive of abortion restriction.

  12. Adam G, I read all your comments on the email thread but didn’t “get” what you meant. And the problem is that your answers so far show the same lack of consistency. Reading through them, it seems that first you don’t care in principle about the people using statements from the prophets, and then you do. Then you say that you don’t want Connor to be the spokeman because you disagree with some (all?) Of his politics, but then you claim your opposition is not about politics. I have yet to see a consistent, well-argued point yet. There may be one out there, but so far – am not “getting” it. No disrespect intended.

  13. “I’m going to go ahead and wager you wont find anyone who understands the constitution who thinks Lincoln WASN’T a tyrant and thinks the Civil War was a great idea.”

    I’m guessing I’m not a true Scotsman either.

  14. The visual design is a bit tacky, but probably right on target for drawing the type of freeway-side attention it was intended to. The words of the prophets are not their own; they’ve been given to the world, and the world can use or abuse them as suits them best. Note: I am a warlike person; the place I work has a six-letter acronym, and the middle two letters are WC—Warfare Center. You should see the hulks of steel I put my faith in and the things I do to make others believe in them too.

  15. “If we really want peace, we must change our course to get it. We must honestly strive for peace and quit sparring for military advantage. We must learn and practice, as a nation and as a world, the divine principles of the Sermon on the Mount. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.” – President J. Reuben Clark

  16. Geoff B.,

    I don’t believe that no disrespect is intended. People who don’t intend disrespect usually don’t assume that if they personally haven’t made sense of your argument, the reason must be that you’re lying or self-decieved.

    Only zealots think that their position is so obviously right that their opponents can’t possibly mean what they say and must have interior psychological explanations for their views.

    Just like only cranks think Lincoln was a tyrant, the President is not a natural-born citizen, or that the US government was in on 9-11.

  17. On the original question: No, it doesn’t sit right with me. Any more than the billboards I’ve seen while visiting Utah that use prophetic quotes to support political views from other corners of the political arena.

    I’m not sure I can articulate why. Perhaps because it’s an appeal to authority rather than a reasoned argument? Reasoned arguments are hard to fit on a billboard, though, aren’t they? But then you tell me (I haven’t actually looked) that the Web site is a collection of additional appeals to authority, and space is not a limitation there.

  18. I … stand upon this principle, that the truth is in the gospel of Jesus Christ, that the power of redemption, the power of peace, the power for good will, love, charity and forgiveness, and the power for fellowship with God, abides in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in obedience to it on the part of the people. I therefore admit, and not only admit but claim, that there is nothing greater on earth, nor in heaven, than the truth of God’s gospel which he has devised and restored for the salvation and the redemption of the world. AND IT IS THROUGH THAT THAT PEACE WILL COME TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN, AND IT WILL NOT COME TO THE WORLD IN ANY OTHER WAY. (Gospel Doctrine, 420.) – President Joseph F. Smith (pretty applicable to foreign wars)

  19. Maybe someone else could post on a billboard next to it the things Pres Hinckley said 10 years ago on war? Then we could have dueling billboards!

    I have a problem with those who cherry-pick quotes to promote their views or put down someone else’s views. I’m a libertarian, but not to the extent that I let my brains fall out of my head, as I think Boyack sometimes does.

    BTW, I also am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have no problem with Boyack having a billboard “proclaiming peace”, as long as he isn’t misappropriating GAs. Because we may be able to find others that say something entirely different (as noted above).

  20. Vader, the billboard and the website are not appeals to authority. They simply quote the prophets and leave it up to the individual to make what they will of them. If you want well-reasoned arguments for why we are a warlike people, Connor and others have written those as well. You can find them on connor’s blog, his book, and most likely other places as well. I am not the author of the website, so I can’t claim that this is the absolute truth, but it is my OPINION that the website is intended to get people thinking, not to make any kind of argument.

  21. Rameumpton, please post a link to what Pres. Hinckley said. I would be greatly interested in seeing some opposing viewpoints.

  22. I think the billboard is in poor taste. It uses a snippet of a prophet’s talk in a crass way for political purposes. My problems with Boyack are legion. As Adam pointed out, his views on the Civil War are wrong but his scholarship on many topics and particularly foreign policy is severely lacking. There is also the general pugnacious behavior of many Ron Paul supporters that irks me. Finally, I discuss here: http://mormonwar.blogspot.com/2011/12/duplicity-of-anti-war-critic.html my problems with the Kimball talk.
    So the billboard pretty much hits every one of my buttons.

  23. The quote on the billboard simply states “We are a warlike people” – if you disagree with that then you’ve got other issues.

    The quote continues on the website (and not taken out of context): “…we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God.” And again, if you disagree with that then there are other issues.

    I for one am happy to see some LDS standing up and trying to open the eyes of others to follow the Golden Rule and “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

    I think far too many Americans have lived the past decade comfortable with seeking after vengeance and being hungry for the the blood of terrorists (who are still our brothers and sisters and God’s children) around the world, or blindly following what their nation’s leaders say; because after all, we are America, our man-appointed leaders couldn’t possibly steer us wrong, could they? Or from an LDS perspective, America is ZION and God loves America. Every political move our leaders make must be God-inspired.

  24. Second and last reminder: the question is: is the billboard inappropriate and if so why? Would a bumper sticker saying the same thing be inappropriate? How about a print out in your cubicle at work? Connor’s views on the civil war are irrelevant to this post. Opinions on Ron Paul are irrelevant. Stick to the issue and don’t personally attack others, and youer comments will remain. Otherwise, they will be sent to outer darkness. Thanks.

  25. OFF TOPIC

    I’m going to go ahead and wager you wont find anyone who understandssimplistically and anachronistically imposes modern Libertarian philosophy on the constitution who thinks Lincoln WASN’T a tyrant and thinks the Civil War was a great idea.

    There, I fixed it for you.

  26. Please calm down Geoff. I offered the many reasons why I don’t like the billboard. The author of it and his views and behavior are entirely on topic. Your reaction to it actually proves my point about him and his supporters, and reinforces why I have a problem promoting those viewpoints and associated behaviors with a billboard.

  27. Part of what can make a particular statement inappropriate or appropriate (including a billboard) is who states it and why.

    Mr. Boyack’s record of incredibly bad judgment and downright conspiracy-theorizing is relevant to me because Mr. Boyack is behind this billboard and the associated website. That Mr. Boyack is behind it makes me suspect that the billboard and the linked website aren’t going to be a fair exposition of the range of LDS scriptures and prophetic statements on war. It makes me suspect that its going to be a one-sided or cherry-picked presentation in service of a discreditable political agenda. Whether or not a billboard is a one-sided or cherry-picked exposition of LDS views in service of a discreditable political agenda isrelevant to what you think of the billboard. At least it is for me.

    But its your post, so that’s my last comment on that subject.

  28. Geoff, you are going to have trouble divorcing this issue from the brand of Libertarianism Connor advocates (including his Libertarian interpretation of the Civil War, the fact that he is an official representative of the Ron Paul campaign for Mormon outreach, etc.).

    I too am uncomfortable with the sound-bite problem inherent in the billboard approach. At the same time, the billboard does in fact pose a question and not make a direct assertion. But it is also a leading question. The asker has a specific answer in mind and hopes to lead the reader to specific conclusions.

    I am not offended by it. But I am uncomfortable with it. Especially in the context of Connor’s other efforts.

    But I also know and trust the integrity of others involved in creating and paying for the billboard. They are good people, as is Connor. I think they are mistaken. But they are honest and have good intentions.

  29. President Hinckley commented in General Conference, Oct 2001 (Nov01 Ensign), the following:

    “You are acutely aware of the events of September 11, less than a month ago. Out of that vicious and ugly attack we are plunged into a state of war. It is the first war of the 21st century. The last century has been described as the most war-torn in human history. Now we are off on another dangerous undertaking, the unfolding of which and the end thereof we do not know. For the first time since we became a nation, the United States has been seriously attacked on its mainland soil. But this was not an attack on the United States alone. It was an attack on men and nations of goodwill everywhere. It was well planned, boldly executed, and the results were disastrous. It is estimated that more than 5,000 innocent people died. Among these were many from other nations. It was cruel and cunning, an act of consummate evil.

    Recently, in company with a few national religious leaders, I was invited to the White House to meet with the president. In talking to us he was frank and straightforward….
    Those of us who are American citizens stand solidly with the president of our nation. The terrible forces of evil must be confronted and held accountable for their actions. This is not a matter of Christian against Muslim. I am pleased that food is being dropped to the hungry people of a targeted nation. We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive. It is the terrorist organizations that must be ferreted out and brought down.

    We of this Church know something of such groups. The Book of Mormon speaks of the Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction. In their day they did all in their power, by whatever means available, to bring down the Church, to woo the people with sophistry, and to take control of the society. We see the same thing in the present situation.

    We are people of peace. We are followers of the Christ who was and is the Prince of Peace. But there are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization, just as Moroni rallied his people in his day to the defense of their wives, their children, and the cause of liberty (see Alma 48:10).”

    Pres Hinckley on the recent wars

    I think that is very clear that Pres Hinckley taught that sometimes war is necessary, and that the war on terrorism needed to be fought. That said, I’m not sure what his thoughts would be on a continuing occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, which I am opposed to. But that is different than total opposition to all wars, or the wars on terror.

  30. “is the billboard inappropriate and if so why? Would a bumper sticker saying the same thing be inappropriate? How about a print out in your cubicle at work?”

    I see no difference between a billboard and any other kind of medium—including blogs. The content, not the medium, is what matters.

    That said, I admit that when I see Boyack’s name attached to something I automatically assume it is wrong.

  31. People willing to ignore their religious principles and attempt to discredit their own prophets teachings so that they can get a candidate into office (Romney) cough cough…. are worshipping a false idol. They are ignoring the teachings of the church and most likely would have called Lehi crazy and sought to have him droned by their elected leader to get him to shut up. People need to wake up. God gave specific instructions in the bible and book of mormon. He gave us the gift of prayer and self revelation. He gave us prophets to guide us. He did not send a government to take his throne.

  32. TBH I agree with Rameumptom when he says “I think that is very clear that Pres Hinckley taught that sometimes war is necessary, and that the war on terrorism needed to be fought. That said, I’m not sure what his thoughts would be on a continuing occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, which I am opposed to. But that is different than total opposition to all wars, or the wars on terror.”

    My views on the wars have changed these last 10+ years. I was never comfortable with Iraq and figured we weren’t going there for the stated reasons (IMO it’s so that baby Bush could finish what his daddy couldn’t: get Hussein). I agreed with Pres. Hinckley’s comment at the time that “there are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization, just as Moroni rallied his people in his day to the defense of their wives, their children, and the cause of liberty.” I just think the government has taken horrible approaches at it and extended this war for purposes other than “just wars” and freedom and defense. One needs only to look at the stories coming out of that part of the world and see that we have lost site of the original goal. I don’t think President Hinckley would be too happy with the fact that we are still in these wars and have been talking about entering into more conflicts with Syria and now Iran.

    To that extent I think it’s time to bring the troops home, for various reasons I am not going into here, but I highly doubt any US president will ever bring the troops home from Afghanistan and I fully expect a conflict in Iran soon.

    (plus it’s been prophesied that in the latter days all the world will be at war with each other as the Savior’s 2nd Coming approaches)

    Truly we (God’s children) are a “warlike people”.

  33. Adam,

    I don’t like Mormons using slogans and soundbites to argue with each other on what is the Mormon position on politics.

    This project has nothing to do with Romney. Sure, some of the media will tie in the connection because it’s relevant, and because they want to. We can’t control that. I don’t think anybody involved in this project mentioned Romney as being in any way relevant to our goals and strategy.

    And I don’t like to argue with slogans and soundbites either. It’s why I wrote a book — again, not about Romney at all, but about the principles he happens to advocate violating.

    Vader,

    Perhaps because it’s an appeal to authority rather than a reasoned argument?

    We’re not editorializing this project on the website. While the media asks some questions and I and others express personal opinion, the emphasis of the website is to simply offer up the words of church leaders and scripture on the subject — with no commentary. We’re not appealing to authority to win an argument. We’re pointing to the words of those authorities so others can read up on them and perhaps change their mind. This isn’t as much about converting people to our viewpoint on foreign policy as it is about highlighting teachings that we feel are not being applied by the Saints at large.

    Rameumptom,

    Maybe someone else could post on a billboard next to it the things Pres Hinckley said 10 years ago on war?

    My take.

    Morgan,

    So the billboard pretty much hits every one of my buttons.

    Being the advocate of military invention that you are… mission accomplished.

    J. Max,

    I think they are mistaken. But they are honest and have good intentions.

    Thank you for saying what I expect Adam cannot. :)

  34. Connor, you are welcome to your “take” on Pres Hinckley’s comments on war. That he compared the terrorists with Gadianton Robbers and that all Americans must stand together to fight this, is very clear.
    So, to quote Pres Kimball’s “renounce war, proclaim peace” is an easy thing to do, but Pres Hinckley’s more recent statement seems to bring in lots of nuances that I don’t think should be ignored or interpreted by someone with a specific agenda.

  35. Wow. Just read some of the content on their website. How could anyone really feel OK about our current state of affairs with our troops if they believed the prophets?
    What seems to be happening in the discussion here is knee-jerk reactions back and forth, not real discussion of the content and appropriateness. Why do you think the content is not appropriate?

    -It is appropriate because our nation’s current path is not aligned with the words of the prophets.
    -It is appropriate because our people are on the same page with evangelicals and other “Christians” that are very pro-war. How can one really be a disciple, or say they are pro-life, yet support the deaths of over 1 million innocent people after we destabilize their country?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War

    It’s been said above that it is inappropriate b/c it is designed to draw attention to some anti-Romney rhetoric, coming from Mormons. In other words, if we disagree with Romney, we should keep it quiet, and “play on the same team”? Let’s show a unified front, and hold back on our honesty to help a fellow brother out!
    If that is truly your sentiment, let me tell you, no true disciple of Christ should sell out their religion to give one of their members more power, esp. if they choose to promote war and bloodshed.

  36. Ram: The differing talks from prophets and the way they are selectively used by different individuals is the exact point I made in my linked article. Lets face it, some prophets were far more pacificstic than others. Some, like Hinkckely, seemed to endorse some wars. So trying to beat other people over the head with their words is shaky at best and I would argue is not very Christlike. So taking one line from the most used anti war talk for a billboard is representative of what I think is unChristlike behavior.

  37. The LDS prophets provoke it’s members to change their ways. The billboard is provoking members to think about what the prophets have already provoked us to do. Of course nothing is wrong with it.

  38. I didn’t see how this was tied to a political agenda. There’s no, “vote republican, the prophet said so.” There IS however a strong use of the prophet’s words to dissuade certain behaviors. I believe it will get people to think about what they support. Many never do, they just follow main stream. This billboard, I’m thinking, will cause some to stop, examine the issue and make a determination stronger, one way or the other, as to whether or not and under what circumstance, they support war.

  39. Morgan based on your comment #46 then if Connor put up a billboard right across the freeway from the Kimball quote that said:

    Why did Gordon B. Hinckley say:
    “WE ARE PEOPLE OF PEACE?”
    Find out at peacefulLDS.com

    would that be appropriate?

  40. Please, stay on topic, folks. There is a bit of bashing, reading into motives, etc.

    How many of you have read the content of the Website?
    Why is it inappropriate? (Divorcing any preconceived notion of who Connor is and his goals).

    The whole project is putting a big spotlight on some church leader’s comments on why war is bad. Why is this inappropriate?

  41. Rameumptom,

    That he compared the terrorists with Gadianton Robbers and that all Americans must stand together to fight this, is very clear.

    Who is disagreeing with you? And how is that relevant to Geoff’s questions on this post?

    So, to quote Pres Kimball’s “renounce war, proclaim peace”…

    God said that, not Pres. Kimball. FYI.

    Pres Hinckley’s more recent statement seems to bring in lots of nuances that I don’t think should be ignored or interpreted by someone with a specific agenda.

    Beware, those with an agenda! The preaching of the gospel, the promotion of peace, and love of all of God’s children—these, you must be wary of! Heaven forbid such an agenda might one day become popular…

  42. How could anyone really feel OK about our current state of affairs with our troops if they believed the prophets?

    Lee, this statement from you demonstrates the reason why I am uncomfortable with the billboard. You are explicitly asserting what the billboard is intended to, more subtly, support. You are saying that those of us who do not agree with Libertarian Philosophy of War do not believe “the prophets.” You are not simply saying that we are mistaken, you are saying that we are wicked and rejecting the words of the Lord through his servants.

    That is why President Hinckley’s words, quoted above, are relevant. See Rameumptom’s comment #44. There is room for faithful, prophet following latter-day saints to disagree on Iraq, Afghanistan, and even future action in Iran or Syria, without being accused of rejecting either the prophets or the constitution.

    If you can’t see why what you are saying might be inappropriate, then I don’t know what I can say.

  43. J. Max, there are plenty — many — who support this billboard that don’t favor the “libertarian philosophy of war” or define it as such. Your narrow view on those supporting this project, and their foreign policy views, is a disservice to those who have diverging views on what exactly our foreign policy should be, according to scripture and modern prophets. This isn’t about libertarianism. It’s about what God himself has said on the subject of war.

  44. Appropriate? Sure, why not? Very few people pay attention to billboards where you have to learn more by going somewhere else anyway. The Book of Mormon is filled with mixed messages about war. Since the history of the LDS Church is more complex than one (admittedly classic) talk, then the biggest problem I have is the one note presentation of its website. Its a free country. Better to quote a prophet than denounce them.

  45. I appreciate that clarification, Connor. Unfortunately, all of the people _I know_ who have been involved in the project or given money to it are self described libertarians. I’m glad that it has gained support from others with divergent views, but is it wrong to say that the people _directly_ involved with its design and planning are libertarians?

    I think that if you don’t want the long shadow of your other projects to tint the view of a billboard like this, you need to actively do it in collaboration with someone who is well known for disagreeing with you. Is it realistic for you to expect anyone to divorce this project from you?

    Also, will you agree with me that Lee’s comment was out of bounds and that “there is room for faithful, prophet following latter-day saints to disagree on Iraq, Afghanistan, and even future action in Iran or Syria, without being accused of rejecting either the prophets or the constitution”?

  46. I’m Mike Parker, and I apparently show a lack of good faith. So don’t believe anything that follows:

    I completely agree with President Hinckley’s comparison of al-Qaeda terrorists with the Gadianton robbers. What that has to do with the ten-year occupation of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of its government, and the pending military action against Iran, I’m not sure.

    The Book of Mormon is instructive here — the Gadiantons were persisted and succeeded because of the wickedness of the Nephites. The Lamanites, on the other hand, hunted down the Gadiantons and preached the gospel to them, and because of this “this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites” (Helaman 6:37). The Nephites tried to destroy the Gadiantons through military means, but were never successful (Helaman 2:11; 3 Nephi 1:27) — they kept coming back generation after generation (4 Nephi 1:42, 46; Mormon 1:18).

    This seems to support President Kimball’s June 1976 instruction that we should not rely on our military might to save us, but instead should live the teachings of Christ, love our enemies, and preach the gospel to them.

  47. “You are saying that those of us who do not agree with Libertarian Philosophy of War do not believe “the prophets.” You are not simply saying that we are mistaken, you are saying that we are wicked and rejecting the words of the Lord through his servants.” J. Max Wilson

    True. I think it’s pretty hard to really believe the words of the prophets and Christ and be behind the current wars we’re in.

    But I don’t believe that others are wicked if they don’t agree with my view. I believe they haven’t shined a light on the inconsistency between Christ’s teachings and their political views. They haven’t pondered and prayed about it or thought about it clearly.

    My hope is that this will provoke more thought. Why is it OK for us to invade other countries? To cause 100K+ deaths directly and 1M+ indirectly?
    These are my own beliefs- there is major cognitive dissonance between believing Christ and support proactive war.

    But the billboard isn’t about me or my beliefs. It’s a collection of prophet’s discourses on war.

    Maybe your main “pain point” is that you disagree with the doctrine of peace as it relates to US Policy. Maybe you feel that these teachings are only applicable to individuals, and that nations don’t need to adhere to them, or that this simple rule doesn’t apply to complex international problems?

  48. Lee,

    I have known Connor, and the other Libertarians who sometimes participate here, for quite a while now. They are familiar with me, and I think that Connor and the rest will vouch for the fact that my disagreements with the Libertarian proscription on _all_ pre-emptive war have nothing to do with a lack of consideration, pondering, praying, thinking clearly, or being unfamiliar with either the words of the prophets on the subject or the arguments made by libertarian thinkers.

    I don’t “disagree with the doctrine of peace as it relates to U.S. Foreign Policy.” I object to you using the label “doctrine” for your personal philosophy of what constitutes a just war.

    Here is a coherent and moral argument against any immediate military action in Iran that still allows for some kinds of pre-emptive war to be just:

    Just War and the Iran Crisis by Robert C. Koons, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.

  49. J. Max,

    …is it wrong to say that the people _directly_ involved with its design and planning are libertarians?

    Nope, not at all. The idea for this project was hatched by a few of us at a lunch meeting a few weeks ago — a meeting predominantly attended by libertarian-leaning folk.

    Is it realistic for you to expect anyone to divorce this project from you?

    I’m not that concerned with what people associate. Those who ultimately disagree with the application of these teachings to modern circumstances will find all the wiggle room they feel they need, whether by pointing to another issue I advocate they believe in, or a GA quote they feel is contradictory or nuanced enough to offer them solace in their militarist ways, or something else. Not saying that there’s not room for reasonable disagreement on the application of these teachings, just that it’s a trend I’ve personally observed.

    Also, will you agree with me that Lee’s comment was out of bounds…

    No, I disagree. Iraq and Afghanistan are illegitimate and immoral wars and do not meet the threshold (immutable covenant) imposed in D&C 98, let alone the basic requirements of just war theory. And I can’t speak to Syria or Iran fully because those are changing dynamics and I don’t know what the future holds. Based on what currently is happening, I don’t think there is wiggle room within the gospel framework to advocate military action in those countries.

  50. Adam G, you said:

    “…but it also lends itself way too readily to starting with a political ideology and then looking for “Mormon” arguments and prophet quotes to persuade Mormons.”
    I think I see what you mean, but it seems like you’re implying that what is actually a very logical thought process that too few of us engage in is intrinsically wrong. Most of us start with political ideologies that we get from our parents, friends, or the media, but too few of us then take the time to examine those ideologies in context of the restored Gospel.

    If someone is inclined to search the words of modern Prophets, how else would they do it other than searching, on LDS.org for example, for talks that mention certain issues, like war, or abortion, or whatever else it may be that is important to them? If they find a prophetic quote that helps to shape their political opinion, why then would they not want to share that quote with others that may also be searching for a Gospel perspective on current political issues? If someone has taken the time to find those quotes for me, all the better, as long as they’re accurate quotes with citations.

    Many Latter-day Saints, especially in this election because the most likely candidate is LDS, don’t do what I’ve just described. The billboard is a way to encourage or incite people to look for a prophetic perspective on political issues for which they may not normally seek that type of validation/information because they have a preconceived idea of the types of political ideals “good Mormons” are supposed to endorse. In short, many people who see the billboard and visit the website may otherwise never even have known these quotes exist.

    Adam, I think you’re unfairly assuming motivations that you can’t honestly know. You’re assuming that the people behind this billboard, and those who contributed to the fund for it, are doing so to drum up media attention rather than to provide access to information that may or may not help people form or refine their political opinions. Personally, I want fellow Latter-day Saints to be aware that our Prophets have said things like this because quotes like these did help me make sense of complex political issues.

    Further, by referring to “soundbite political Mormonism,” you’ve repeatedly implied that these quotes are taken out of context in order to be disingenuous. Would you be willing to share an example of one of these quotes that you feel was intentionally taken out of context? I can agree that there is often room for varying interpretations, and I acknowledge truth in what J. Max said about the tendency of some of us to wrongfully pass judgment on the faithfulness of members who don’t see these quotes like we do. Even something that seems so cut-and-dry that it’s above argument to me may genuinely seem ambiguous to you. That’s not what I’m talking about. Can you share an example of a modern prophetic quote about war that you feel was intentionally taken out of context for deceitful purposes?

  51. The supporters of this billboard have many different political views but are united in promoting a dialogue of peace. They are from divergent political views, both libertarian and anti-libertarian yet agreed in concerns that the majority of Saints have swung too far in favor of aggressive war; one fellow stated he was a member living in Norway and has been quite appalled and sorrowful about the attitudes of his fellow Saints in the U.S.

  52. J. Max Wilson,
    This has digressed from the main question quite a bit.

    The war propaganda machine is in full swing and has been going for over a year. There is a very real chance we will force a war there soon. Many Christians are signed up and in support of it. The media is supporting it, and spouting anti-Iran messages (some with little truth) overtly.

    War will most likely come, either in Iran next year or in expansion in some other muslim country. If it’s Iran, we will most likely see great destabilization there, and possibly hundreds of thousands dead. In light of over one million deaths in Iraq as a result of the invasion, we should all ask what is right, what is necessary, and how it can be avoided.

    Somehow, asking this question “is war with Iran really necessary” has become “radical” and “extreme” among some Republicans.

    Invoking the words of Christ or the prophets is also “extreme”, in your view, based on your comments above. In light of very recent wars and their results, I can’t understand why, except that the cognitive dissonance between your Religion and your political beliefs makes you uncomfortable.

  53. Question to Connor: “Is it realistic for you to expect anyone to divorce this project from you?”

    Answer: “I’m not that concerned with what people associate.”

    But you should be. I’d usually be supportive of such a billboard. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the message. But you’ve already gained enough notoriety (in my mind, at least) that if I were to financially support this particular billboard, I would feel like I was supporting the personality cult–along with the political baggage–of Connor.

    Get some other semi-prominent anti-war people with widely divergent political beliefs on board, and I’d be much more likely to support the message. But as long as it’s just a project by Connor and friends, you can count me out.

  54. Your call, Tim. Others are able to recognize that agreeing and affiliating with somebody on a specific issue or project is not an endorsement of everything that person believes and advocates. I don’t expect everybody to agree with me on everything, and those who are working on this project with me have diverging views on various issues. They’re not as sensitive as some on this thread appear to be. To each his own, I suppose.

  55. Lee,

    Invoking the words of Christ or the prophets is also “extreme”, in your view, based on your comments above. In light of very recent wars and their results, I can’t understand why, except that the cognitive dissonance between your Religion and your political beliefs makes you uncomfortable.

    Haha! Lee, read the article to which I linked. It is AGAINST going to war with Iran right now. And I agree with it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with analyzing our political positions in light of the Gospel. [In fact I have a reputation for annoyingly making political assertions by citing the words of Christ and the prophets. Connor has even, at times in the past approvingly linked to things I have written].

    I have no problem reconciling my political beliefs with my religion. Just because you cannot understand how that is possible doesn’t mean that I have cognitive dissonance. :)

    I am uncomfortable with the billboard for this very reason. It leads people like you to think that it is impossible to follow the prophet and support wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. In other words, you think that the quoted words should compel all believers to agree with you and when they don’t you accuse the reader of either not understanding or rejecting the prophets.

  56. Also Lee, Please note that you are the only one up to this point in the comments here to use the words “extreme” or “radical.” I never said that invoking the words of Christ or the prophets was “extreme.” Please don’t put words in my mouth.

  57. I, for one, think people of wildly different viewpoints can come together on specific issues on which they agree.

    For example, I passionately disagree with Dennis Kucinich’s views on domestic policy, but he has been right on most of the Congressional votes related to war and military spending.

    I may not agree with everything Connor does, but that shouldn’t keep me from supporting this particular project, which I think is a very, very good thing.

  58. There’s a big difference between “agreeing with” and “affiliating with.” I might agree with Glenn Beck, Bill Maher, or Dick Cheney on some political point, but I’m not about to affiliate with any of them on that specific issue. Because of the individual’s notoriety, the individual and that individual’s entire political views overshadow any smaller, specific agreeable point, and any affiliation on a small point would be overwhelmed by that shadow.

    For better or worse, you’ve made a name for yourself; many (at least in Utah) view you like they view Bill Maher or Glenn Beck.

    I do appreciate that the website itself just focuses on that one issue. I’m sure that is helping you to hold on to some supporters (such as the Norwegian) who would probably be turned off by most other libertarian political views.

  59. Tim, I understand where you are coming from, but I just don’t think that way. I keep on telling myself if just a few thousand more key people — with influence — had stood up to the Republicans on Iraq, we might have avoided that unnecessary war. I am talking about people like Connor and perhaps even myself (although my influence is very small in comparison with most people I am thinking of). I consider myself part of the Republican “base.” I go to the caucus meetings and participate in rallies. I have spoken to my congressmen and am involved in local politics. What if so many of us had complained about Bush’s foreign policy and warned against an Iraqi invasion that he was forced to back down? Imagine how we could have changed history.

    We are at a similar point regarding Iran and Syria. I will not remain silent this time. Connor and I are friends on Facebook, and I enjoyed his book, but I don’t — by a long shot — agree with everything he says and does or the way he does it. But on this particular issue, I feel we can make a difference. Perhaps we really can convince Obama or the future president Romney that there are some really noisy, annoying people out there opposed to war. So, the cause is greater than Connor or you or me — it is a cause I really believe in fervently because I have five kids and the way things are going I really worry about the future. So, I’m happy to speak out against future wars and mistaken past wars any way I can.

  60. I would also like to point out that Connor’s (and the other planners of this billboard — there are others, btw) primary goal appears to get people to discuss this issue. So far he is succeeding quite nicely.

  61. Connor, hypothetically, would you change your mind about using decades old prophetic “anti-war” quotes in a propaganda campaign if you knew that actually, our current prophet, and most of the General Authorities supported military action in Iraq and Afganistan?

    I don’t think this could be proven. But given that the political views of most of the General Authorities probably reflect the majority of LDS political views, I think that most likely, the majority of our current prophets and apostles might have supported military action in those countries, and might even support future action in Iran, if it comes to that.

    While this is speculative, if this could be proven, would you think twice about using prophetic quotes to promote an agenda that most GAs would consider misguided?

    Or would you feel that the personal views of our current prophets would be wrong, and that you should try to pit President Kimball’s views against theirs?

    While I personally am a liberal hawk, I do take issue with other political views of GAs, so I actually would face the same question myself, if I were to challenge the church on other issues. So I’m interested to hear your response.

  62. Nate, you say: “But given that the political views of most of the General Authorities probably reflect the majority of LDS political views, I think that most likely, the majority of our current prophets and apostles might have supported military action in those countries, and might even support future action in Iran, if it comes to that.”

    This is simply not true. To use one example, the Saints in the 1930s and early 1940s overwhelmingly were Democrats, even though the prophet was a Republican. President Grant regularly spoke out against FDR, often quite forcefully and violently (he broke a coffee table with his cane once while heatedly condemning FDR). I spent much of the last decade (when I supported the Iraq war) desperately searching for evidence that the prophets supported the Iraq war, and in the end found very little besides Pres Hinckley’s talks, which were neutral in many ways. The Church is no longer an “American church.” More members are outside the US than in. I can tell you that Latter-day Saints outside the U.S. overwhelmingly — and I mean *overwhelmingly* — oppose U.S. military action. So, to say that the Brethren would support a war because conservative people in the American West do so is simply to ignore the realities of the modern-day church.

  63. Tim #69:

    There’s a big difference between “agreeing with” and “affiliating with.” I might agree with Glenn Beck, Bill Maher, or Dick Cheney on some political point, but I’m not about to affiliate with any of them on that specific issue.

    Connor, would you please post here the names of all the charities to which you contribute? I want to make sure I don’t have any money to them, for fear of being associated with you and your horrible views.

  64. Is the billboard inappropriate? If it is, then Mr Mac and Big O Tire (and other businesses) billboards are inappropriate. They too, spend their own money with the intention of bringing attention what they want you to think about. I think we should start a blog about the evils of letting Mr Mac try and coerce us, from the highways, into buying a two pant suit from his business rather than Men’s Wearhouse. …and I haven’t even started on Big O Tire yet!!

  65. Monte C.,

    It’s not the fact that the billboard wants you to think in a certain way, it’s that it seems to use the words of prophets to promote a specific political agenda, when the church itself has not taken an official position on Iraq or Iran, or a specific candidate.

    Mr. Mac doesn’t have billboards with the words “President Kimball said ‘Every Member a Missionary’, follow his counsel and look like a missionary with a suit from Mr. Mac!”

    Now that would be inappropriate. But at least it would be funny. ;)

  66. Max: Please look at the site again. What “specific political agenda” is it promoting? What candidates or initiatives is it telling people to vote for? What action is it suggesting people take? What websites does it link to? Does it mention Afghanistan, Iraq, or Iran?

    Just because you happen to know that Connor and his posse are behind it doesn’t mean than anyone else who visits the site does.

  67. “[I]t’s that it seems to use the words of prophets to promote a specific political agenda…”

    …and? What of it?

  68. J Max..my point was to lighten the comments here. :-) didn’t mean to pick on Mr Mac, it’s just the name that came to my mind first because I’ve seen their billboards from time to time. But the serious part of my comment was… IF a group of people want to make a statement, AND they’re willing to spend their own money on it, AND they believe in what they’re saying, AND they’re not twisting the words of anyone they’re quoting, how can this be inappropriate? Beyond that, it’s a matter of whether you agree with it or not… if you don’t, then buy a double-breasted suit from JC Penney’s… THAT’LL SHOW’EM!

  69. Mike: Same question. Even if the billboard does promote a specific political agenda, what of it?

    I think you don’t believe that it does so, and I happen to agree, but if we were wrong would will necessarily have to admit defeat?

  70. “..AND they’re not twisting the words of anyone they’re quoting…”

    You can misrepresent without twisting or changing words simply by quote selection and lack of context. The quotes on the website are selected because they seem to support a specific, predetermined view about what constitutes just war. Later First Presidency messages about the necessity and correctness of U.S. Involvement in WW2 and even President Hinckley’s more recent words that indicated that wars meant to free the oppressed and right wrong may be supportable are left off the site.

    In as much as the billboard gets people thinking about what constitutes a Just War, I applaud it. Insofar as it pushes a specific Libertarian definition that proscribes all pre-emptive war, I am bothered by its selective use of quotes from prophets to support that view.

  71. Then, Max, I would suggest that you put together your own website — say, perhaps, http://www.LDSJustWar.com — and critique what you believe to be a selective use of the quotes.

    Or maybe write up what you consider to be the site’s specific deficiencies and submit them to Connor. I’m sure he’d be willing to give your review due consideration.

  72. A wise friend of mine, speaking of this very billboard (not a coincidence), suggested to me that they had an issue with the billboard because of the implications of the right of some members to interpret the words of the prophets for others amd thereby judge them.

    Had they approached this as “here are these words of a prophet and here is what they mean to me, but I can accept that there are various words in various concepts and I’m not challenging the legitimacy of other view points on this — especially given the silence on this point of the living prophets” then this would be an unproblemtic billboard.

    As it is, it’s distasteful precisely because it’s attempting to do more than merely quote prophets and then leave it up to the modern prophets to interpret or up to personal interpretation when in doubt. (As we are taught to do.) It goes right into the realm of claiming to be an authoritative interpretation itself.

    Had President Kimball been the living prophet and said it more recently — i.e. so that we knew it was in the same context as the billboard tries to put it — I would also feel differently. I don’t think there is an issue with standing up for what the prophets currently say. (Though I’m not so sure a billboard is the right way even then.) But as time passes, contexts changes, and current prophets seem to be taking a different stance, the issues of authoritative interpretation rears its ugly head.

    And this billboard crosses that line.

  73. Max: “Insofar as it pushes a specific Libertarian definition that proscribes all pre-emptive war, I am bothered by its selective use of quotes from prophets to support that view.”

    Perhaps you addressed this elsewhere, so forgive me if I’m asking you to repeat yourself, but does it bother you because you simply disagree with the message or does it bother you because there’s something morally or ethically wrong about “[using] quotes from prophets” to “[push] a specific [l]ibertarian definition that proscribes all pre-emptive war”?

  74. @ Joel #86:

    It seems to me we are talking about a specific moral claim here. So the rule is “do unto others…”

    J Max is suggesting the following items as facts:
    1. The quotes selection was selective. This seems to be obviously true.
    2. The quote selection was selective because the person doing the selection wanted to advance a point of view rather than put quotes out there for open discuss and didn’t care about the outcome. This also seems to be obviously true.
    3. When you use quotes from dead prophets you have an extra moral requirement to not imply an authoritative nature reserved for the current prophets. I don’t know if we all agree on this or not. But I would guess most of us do agree with this.

    To what degree was this billboard effectively calling current members to repentance contrary to the current teachings of the prophets? (And very possibly contrary to President Kimball’s own wishes if he was alive today.) This is probably a matter of opinion.

    But my guess is that if someone did the same three things above to make a specific anti-libertarian stance, the cries of foul would be reversed. Therefore, there is a moral problem here.

  75. Morgan D
    You refer to him (Connor) and his supporters. I don’t happen to be a supporter of Connor, I support, sustain, and pray for our prophet. When our prophet speaks, I do my best to understand his words, even if they are uncomfortable.

    Adam
    How is it ever bad judgement to repeat what our prophet has declared? We do it in SS, priesthood, RS, Sacrament meetings, general conference, home evening, etc. What is it that you are really trying to say?

    Cherry picked? Political? Hardly! I don’t see our prophet (or any prophet before or since) endorsing war, that’s all. Our prophets have made many political statement over the years and we are under condemnation for disobeying some of those directives. Brigham Young and the LDS Academies vs public education, Ezra Taft Benson and the Book of Mormon, Heber J Grant and his directive to LDS to NOT vote for FDR because he was a warmonger. (Check it out at http://www.believeallthings.com/4142/presidency-letter-treasury-1941/) Sound familiar?

  76. So it’s wrong because if someone else did it libertarians would cry foul? I’m not following…

  77. I’ve had one more thought about this subject. This billboard, and the website and viewpoint it represents, takes the prophets words and interpretes them for me. Connor himself simply called these “God’s Words”. They might be. But official statements say that official doctrine comes from statements signed by all 15 members of the first presidency or from the standard works. Moreover, many people have correctly pointed out that there are other statements from scriptures and prophets that endorse at least certain forms of war. So left with nonbinding and contradictory statements from prophets we are left with the Spirit to determine our own foreign policy views.

    The billboard and website it represents attempts to do the thinking for us. If we disgaree we are obviously too wicked or dense to know that we should agree. This kind of thinking and innapropriate use of the prophet’s words actually seeks to deprive us of our agency. Ironically, there was a war fought over that which God endorsed.

    I support the doctrine of the church and know how it is established. A cherry picked quote from a site full of picked cherries is not doctrine. It is also extremely inappropriate to question my faith because you don’t know the same. (Ironically it does prove my point about the billboard.)
    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

  78. I’ve seen lots of claims here that the site uses “selective quotation” or “cherry picking.” I’m very interested to see counter-examples of prophetic quotes that support war, particularly preemptive war.

    Bring on the balance.

  79. “So it’s wrong because if someone else did it libertarians would cry foul? I’m not following…”

    If the shoe were on the other foot and one feels it’s immoral then, then it’s immoral to do it yourself.

  80. My own personal stance on the Iraq war was the opposite of Geoff’s. I actually started out anti-Iraq war, then later changed to mildly and grudingly pro. Then I changed my mind again two times since (one for when we discoverd no WMDs and one when the surge worked out and the whole operations seemed to become successful. The changes were not necessarily ‘back and forth’ but more of a tempering of views.) In short, my own stance on the war is that of “uncertain and confused” and probably not much else.

    So this should challenge the idea that people that object to the billboard are only objecting because they politically disagree. This billboards problem goes further than that.

    Let me tell you why I grudgingly changed my mind the first time, when I went from anti-war to at least feeling like I could accept the war, even if it might yet turn out to be a mistake.

    My father was very much pro-war. So I confronted him with the scriptures against pre-emptive wars of agression. I took a stance almost identical to those here that are in favor of the billboard.

    My father suprised me! He had a response that made me stop and think. In his view, the Iraq war was *NOT* a war of agression. It was a restarting of a previous war — the invasion of Kuwait — because the treaty of surrender had been violated. Therefore it still fell under the three types of war that the LDS Church leaders has openly supported: defensive, defending a smaller country, if God commands it. (He had the quote handy. I do not.)

    A bit later I heard Tony Blair speaking to parilment and his argument was supplemental to my Father’s. He pointed out that if you have a treaty you really only have two choices: you either back it up with threat of war, are you don’t have the treaty.

    The simple fact is that the Iraq war is not obviously a pre-emptive nor aggressive war and therefore not obviously against the scriptural teachings on the subject. I do not personally know if God was for or against it — but I do personally know that honest members of the Church can disagree over this both using the same principles in the scriptures and same quotes from the prophets. In the end, context is what matters. It’s unfair to simply say “the scriptures are against pre-emptive wars and Iraq is a pre-emptive war, ergo, Mormons are supposed to be against it.” You have to first disprove the best of the counter arguments, which include the assertion it was not a new war, but an enforcement of an agreed upon treaty.

    Is that correct? I don’t know. But the one thing its not is obvious.

  81. J Max Wilson

    “I am uncomfortable with the billboard for this very reason. It leads people like you to think that it is impossible to follow the prophet and support wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. In other words, you think that the quoted words should compel all believers to agree with you and when they don’t you accuse the reader of either not understanding or rejecting the prophets.”

    It IS impossible to support wars in Iraq (unconstitutional), Afghanistan (4,000 days and counting. Fueled by lies and hate), Iran (Because Glenn Beck, Santorum, Romney, Gingrich says Iran who has NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS is going to attack Israel) All of these are funded by the CFR who happens to be OWG motivated. When we are looking to NATO to tell us when and who to attack then you need to revisit our sacred Constitution and what the founding fathers have said about foreign policy.

  82. “The simple fact is that the Iraq war is not obviously a pre-emptive nor aggressive war and therefore not obviously against the scriptural teachings on the subject.”

    Apparently we have different definitions of “simple” or “obviously” or “pre-emptive” or “aggressive” or all of the above, because it seems the Iraq war was and is patently and obviously pre-emptive and aggressive.

    But, even if the facts were still unclear or the justification for the war ambiguous, my take on the teachings of the Savior and his prophets is that by default I should oppose war, and support it only if it is just and only as a last resort. I saw and see no justification for the Iraq war that would move me from that Christ-centered default opposition.

  83. In short, George, it sounds like you’re saying it’s okay to renounce peace and promote war unless and until it is obviously against scriptural teachings on the subject. It seems the scriptural teachings on the subject contradict that very idea and tell us to renounce war and promote peace unless and until the war is obviously just.

  84. Kristine,

    You say that it is impossible for a faithful latter-day saint to support the war in Iraq because it was “unconstitutional” (and members are supposed to uphold and defend the constitution).

    Putting aside the issue of whether or not the Iraq War was justified and putting aside your conspiracy theories about it, will you explain to me exactly how the Iraq War violated the Constitution? Which exact clause was violated?

  85. Re: 85 by Bruce.

    Do tell… HOW does the billboard or the site interpret anything for us?

    Forget Connor, forget the rest… How does the statement, “Why did Spencer W. Kimball say, ‘We are a warlike people’? Find out at warlikepeople.com” interpret anything? Who’s answering the question? Is Connor answering the question? Or is President Kimball answering the question, in his own words? When you go to the site… you can read Kimball’s address, free of commentary. There’s no commentary on the site at all.

    So how does it interpret anything?

    If you’re feeling like the quotes are interpreted for you, then you are reading into the site something that simply isn’t there. Rather, you are reading something into it based upon your prior knowledge of Connor’s other political views. But the site itself doesn’t comment on the quotes and passages express to present them.

  86. “Which exact clause was violated?”

    Which exact clause authorized it? That’s how the Constitution works.

  87. ldsphilosopher,

    Under the title “Related Resources” the sidebar the site does contain links to commentary by Connor advocating his specific brand of LDS Libertarian pre-emptive war theory, including:

    http://www.ldsliberty.org/preventive-war-and-the-book-of-mormon/
    http://www.ldsliberty.org/the-problematic-inward-vessel/

    IN the footer it says “An LDS Liberty Project” with a link to http://www.ldsliberty.org, where Connors book is spotlighted prominently.

    So while it is true that the site itself does not interpret the quotes for you, it certainly points you to other sites that will.

    As I said above, I know that those behind the billboard are good, honest people. But I think the billboard is a mistake.

  88. Joel, are you serious? The specific clause of the Constitution that authorized the Iraq War is Article 1, Section 8: “The Congress shall have Power…To declare War”.

    Before the Iraq War commenced, Congress passed the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002″ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Resolution

    So again, how did the Iraq War violate the Constitution?

  89. Article 1, Section 8 does not give Congress the power to declare any and all wars, just like the Commerce Clause doesn’t give Congress the power to pass any and all laws to regulate commerce, nor does the 1st Amendment prohibit any and every law that abridges the freedom of speech.

  90. Authority to declare pre-emptive war based on lies must come from somewhere. Do you really think the Constitution authorizes it?

  91. Article 1, Section 8 does not give Congress the power to declare any and all wars

    Um, yes it does. You can’t use “unconstitutional” as a synonym for “wrong.” The war could be immoral and unjust, but if it was authorized by congress then it is unequivocally constitutional. The constitution places no provisos on the power of congress to declare war.

    If the war is based on lies, then when the lie is detected the people should elect new representatives, or pressure their existing representatives to have congress pass a bill recinding authorization.

    Likewise, while it’s true that the Commerce Clause doesn’t give congress the power to pass any laws to regulate all commerce, it does give the congress power to pass any and all laws to regulate interstate commerce. Those laws could be unjust and immoral, but they would still clearly be constitutional. Such laws should be repealed by electing new representatives who will undo them. But they are undeniably within the realm of authority given to the Federal government by the Constitution.

    The 1st Amendment is obviously different in that it is specifically worded as a negative limit on congressional power.

  92. Your comment doesn’t account for scores of laws passed under the commerce clause that absolutely regulate interstate commerce but that were/are nevertheless unconstitutional (and were/are struck down as such). You’re conflating necessary and sufficient conditions. It’s necessary for a law passed under the Commerce Clause to regulate interstate commerce, but the fact that a law regulates interstate commerce does not necessarily make it constitutional. Same goes for Congress’ power to declare war.

  93. To those of you who have insisted that the billboard has nothing to do with promoting the specific Libertarian definitions of just war that Connor generally proclaims, nor has anything to do with undermining Mitt Romney in favor of Ron Paul (for whom Connor is an official representative), please explain the quotes in this article:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/on-utah-billboard-a-mormon-challenge-to-romney

    Are Connor and other organizers being misquoted or quoted out of context?

    a group of Mormon libertarians is paying to display a large billboard in Orem, Utah aimed, in part, at antagonizing their coreligionist, Mitt Romney.
    […]
    The overarching goal is to persuade Mormon Republicans that their faith is out of step with the their party’s interventionist, neoconservative tendencies, an organizer told BuzzFeed. But he said that the message is especially relevant now that Latter-day Saints are lining up behind Romney, whose foreign policy platform is marked by hawkish Iran rhetoric and urgent calls for Navy-building.

    “I personally think Romney’s foreign policy is egregious and at odds with the principles of his faith,” said LDS Liberty organizer Connor Boyack, adding, “One can look at these talks from prophets and see that Romney is out of touch with them.”

  94. Please separate your complaints about the billboard itself from your complaints about Connor’s overarching political preferences. How does the billboard and the site campaign for Ron Paul?

  95. I find it amusing that people think that the uninterpreted, uncommented on words of prophets constitute an endorsement of Ron Paul. What does that imply?

  96. Your comment doesn’t account for scores of laws passed under the commerce clause that absolutely regulate interstate commerce but that were/are nevertheless unconstitutional (and were/are struck down as such). You’re conflating necessary and sufficient conditions.

    I’ve never heard of any such case. Could you offer an example? Obviously a law that violated one of positive prohibitions in the Constitution would be unconstitutional even if it were passed under the Commerce Clause. But I’ve never heard of any case that said the Commerce Clause alone wasn’t sufficient to pass legislation. Let alone that Congress couldn’t constitutionally declare war without some extra justification.

  97. Joel, I appreciate your efforts to explain why you think that the Iraq War is unconstitutional, but your reasoning is so muddled that I don’t think I can expend sufficient time to help you understand where you are getting it wrong. Even most people who support the billboard and think the Iraq War was wrong will agree with me that your logic doesn’t make any sense.

    When laws that attempt to claim the commerce clause and the “necessary and proper” clause to justify actions are struck down as unconstitutional, it is not because they were immoral but because they stretched the definitions of “interstate” and “necessary and proper” to the point of incoherence. In other words, they were struct down because they were not actually within the realm of “interstate commerce” even though they claimed to be.

    This is English grammar comprehension. The word “commerce” is qualified by the adjective “interstate”. So when a law that tries to regulate commerce is declared unconstitutional it is because it fails to meet the “interstate” qualification.

    The war powers clause, on the other hand, contains no qualifiers on the word “war”. So as long as the war is authorized by congress, it is constitutional. Full stop.

    Like I said, it may be wrong and immoral, but it is still unequivocally constitutional. If you cannot understand this then there is nothing more I can do for you.

  98. “As strict Constitutionalist, Joel, I must inform you that you are wrong. Laws and acts of Congress can be both constitutional and wrong.”

    I’m not saying that laws can’t be constitutional and “wrong.” I’m saying that “constitutionality” depends on not only express textual authorization, but also whether the law (or, in this case, the war) is within the limits of what a constitution can logically and morally authorize.

    A law that requires people to purchase broccoli is clearly a law that regulates interstate commerce. This alone does not make the law constitutional, because even when regulating interstate commerce Congress can only do those things which it has the delegated power to do. I cannot force you to buy broccoli, so I cannot delegate that power to Congress, even though they may “regulate interstate commerce.”

  99. A law that requires people to purchase broccoli is clearly a law that regulates interstate commerce.

    Sorry, Joel, that law is clearly NOT interstate commerce, but most often is INTRAstate commerce.

    Your argument is just wrong.

  100. Max: Congress has just declared war against every country on earth with the express goal of building a new American empire. There is no question that it is a war. There is no question that it is authorized by Congress.

    Constitutional?

  101. Also, Joel, you’re mixing to competing paradigms of thought as if they were one.

    Constitutionalism (the idea that all laws require the express approval of the Constitution) and libertarianism (the idea that we cannot delegate more powers than we have as people) are two different ideas. A law may violate principles of libertarianism (aka, delegate more power than the people have), but still be constitutional (aka, expressly authorized by the Constitution). You imply that if a law violates libertarianism, it also violates the constitution. That simply isn’t true.

    As both a libertarian and a constitutionalist, I invite you to do more research and learning before doing further damage to our cause.

  102. One more example, Joel. Then I’m done with this tangent. Many libertarians believe that all tax is theft and therefore immoral. Similar to your argument, they say that if I cannot take my neighbor’s money by force, then I cannot justly have the government do it for me. However, the Constitution clearly authorizes some kinds of taxation. So even if they are right that it is an unjust power, it is still clearly constitutional. So they can’t say that those taxes are unconstitutional even if they can say that they are unjust.

    Similarly, even if the Iraq War was unjust, it was authorized by Congress and so you can’t say that it is unconstitutional.

  103. Congress has just declared war against every country on earth with the express goal of building a new American empire. There is no question that it is a war. There is no question that it is authorized by Congress.

    Constitutional?

    Yes.

  104. “Sorry, Joel, that law is clearly NOT interstate commerce, but most often is INTRAstate commerce.”

    Your fellow strict constructionist, Justice Scalia, used the broccoli argument to address the constitutionality of ObamaCare just yesterday.

    But let’s assume you’re right. So congress amends the law and requires that you travel out of state to buy broccoli. Now what?

  105. Joel, I don’t think Justice Scalia actually believes that the Federal government has the Constitutional power to compel us to buy anything. If he does, then he is not a strict constitutionalist.

  106. J. Max, in Joel’s defense, many Constitutionalists interpret the clause, “the common Defence and general Welfare of the United State” as a proviso on all the delegated powers that follow; so a war that is not in the common defense, or in the general welfare, of the United States could be construed as unconstitutional, even if declared by Congress.

  107. Joel, now you are dragging the conversation far off topic. Scalia’s use of the broccoli argument has NOTHING to do with it. I regret creating this tangent. The fact that ldsphilosopher and I agree on this should at least give you pause. If you can’t drop it I’ll have to recommend that your comments be moderated.

  108. Max: You’re right. There’s nothing more you can do for me if you think that “constitutional” means nothing more than “consistent with the text of the constitution.” Thanks for the discussion.

  109. “I don’t think Justice Scalia actually believes that the Federal government has the Constitutional power to compel us to buy anything.”

    But what you’re saying is that if the law “regulates interstate commerce” then that’s enough. The fact that it requires us to buy something should be irrelevant. I disagree. Justice Scalia disagrees. If you disagree, why? It MUST be because “regulating interstate commerce” is necessary for a law to be constitutional, but it is not sufficient.

  110. I immediately suspect that Justice Scalia was probably being ironic, playing devil’s advocate, or what not. Supreme Court justices often play devil’s advocate during intense court cases, to see how strong their own arguments are.

    I honestly don’t believe that he thinks what you think he thinks.

    I agree with J. Max… you don’t really know what you are talking about enough to continue participating in this conversation.

  111. Back to the main point. Those members of the church who do, reasonably, think that “constitutional” means nothing more than “consistent with the text of the constitution” should not be accused of violating the constitution (and by extension the church’s teachings about the constitution) because they supported a war that clearly met the standard definition of “constitutional”.

    Reasonable, good members of the church can disagree about whether the war was justified and should be able to do so without having their support for the prophets called into question.

  112. The question is appropriate, if it stands on its own.

    The purpose behind the question in this usage (and the accompanying quotations used as backing at the site, from which the billboard question cannot be divorced with any degree of integrity) renders that usage for that purpose inappropriate – specifically because it distorts and covers a full discourse surrounding the question.

    I know that’s been said already, but I wanted to say it in that way – since there’s a HUGE difference between a purely theoretical question, in and of itself, and a specific practical application using a question and only supporting information to lead to a specific conclusion by obfuscation of other similar but contradictory information.

    The first can lead to enlightenment; the second is nothing more than deception. If that deception is unintentional, it is unfortunate; if it is intentional, it is reprehensible.

  113. The first rule of Constitutional interpretation is that the words mean what the writers of the document intended them to mean and nothing else. That’s why we must go back to the debates, etc. that clearly show what the Founders intended when they wrote the document. We can’t take a phrase they used back then and apply a latter-day definition to it. Take the Commerce Clause. It is clear by the Founders own words that the power to regulate interstate commerce NEVER meant that congress had the power to micromanage every aspect of interstate commerce. According to the words of the Founders, the power to regulate interstate commerce simply meant that congress had the power to keep the states from enforcing tariffs or other protective methods in order to benefit their own commerce at the expense of other states’ commerce. There was a real problem with this under the Articles of Confederation which is why they gave congress this power. It was intended to establish a free trade zone, nothing else. Unfortunately, activist justices have unlawfully disregarded years of precedent and the clear intent of the Founders in order to expand the power of congress to what it is today.

  114. @95,

    Joel,

    I have a serious pragmatic question for you. Your position would seem to suggest that if a treaty or armistice is broken, force of arms can never be used without being at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as one can’t ever used force of arms to enforce treaties without being the aggressor at that point. How would one ever make useful treaties to keep the peace in the first place? I am at a loss here.

    To everyone,

    I actually think Joel’s response gets to the heart of the question. If one already believes its ‘obvious’ that the Iraq war was a pre-emptive war of aggression and not an enforcement of a treaty made to end a previous shooting war, then one *is correct* to say that the Iraq war is at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it’s tautologically a war of aggression. There is nothing else to argue, for we are starting with the very assumptions needed to determine the outcome logically.

    Now all you have to do is convince everyone else that your chosen assumptions are the correct ones. Unfortunately, that was the hard part to being with. The other 97 comments were unfortunately wasted breath because you were arguing the wrong argument.

    Given that Joel and many others won’t even entertain the possibility that it’s not obvious and that therefore honest people can disagree, I’m not certain there is anything else to discuss. We have found our differing unproven and unprovable assumptions and the discussion has reached it’s logical conclusion unless someone cares to take the burden of proof on themselves and try to prove their assumptions to me and others in a way I/we find rationally coercive.

  115. A comment on ‘constitutionality.’

    This is a red herring. When people say something is ‘unconstitutional’ this might mean any of the following:

    1. Actually unconstitution as per the current interpretation of the consitution as determined by the only body that can legally interpret it — the supreme court
    2. Against my personal interpretation of the constitution
    3. Against my personal intepretation of what the founders originally intended. (Which may or may not be correct.)

    If you all insist on equivocating on these three very different understandings, it’s difficult to make sense of what you are saying.

    I can completely except that the consitution as Kristine personally interprets is has been violated. I can completely except that the constitution as Jeff T or Joel personally interpret it has been violated. I might even accept that it’s been violated as per the original (but not current) intepretation.

    But wihtout a doubt the supreme court is still the one and only body that legally interprets the constitution. They may be doing a poor job of it as per original intent, but they have by definition actually ever made an unconstitutional judgment as per definition #1.

    If we are talking about what is ‘legal’ in it’s actual sense — only #1 applies by the way.

  116. “Your position would seem to suggest that if a treaty or armistice is broken, force of arms can never be used without being at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as one can’t ever used force of arms to enforce treaties without being the aggressor at that point. How would one ever make useful treaties to keep the peace in the first place? I am at a loss here.”

    “Given that Joel and many others won’t even entertain the possibility that it’s not obvious and that therefore honest people can disagree, I’m not certain there is anything else to discuss.”

    I entertained the possibility in the very comment you referenced, and I still stand by these words in response to your question regarding treaties:

    “But, even if the facts were still unclear or the justification for the war ambiguous, my take on the teachings of the Savior and his prophets is that by default I should oppose war, and support it only if it is just and only as a last resort. I saw and see no justification for the Iraq war that would move me from that Christ-centered default opposition.”

    It is a heavy burden of proof, and I believe it’s a burden placed upon all of us by the Lord himself. He told us to renounce war. We best have an excellent reason before we embrace war.

  117. Joel,

    Suppose that I do believe that Iraq war both just and a last resort (and was for excellent reasons), as my Father does. Your argument offers nothing but the assertion that it was not.

    You’ve just reframed the original assumption of correctness — ergo you are correct — in a different way. And, I noticed, you avoided answering the pragmatic question that seems to logically flow out of your assumption.

    The problem is that my Father is right about one thing: there was a treaty and it was violated. And once France insisted that there was no way it would ever allow force of arms, the US and Britain really were left with two choices: stop bothering with the treaty and give up on it, or enforce it themselves in some way.

    That is why I can accept that this was not an obvious decision. And it’s why I have such a hard time with people like yourself that think it obvious but can’t even address the difficulties long enough to answer sincere questions about their position.

    I’m not trying to suggest the right decision was made. in fact, I maintain that the Iraq war was a mistake (although I temper that view with the admission that I am using 20/20 hindsight.) It would have been better had we never gone.

    But your failure to address the question posed about treaties is the reason why people with your point of view are so unconvincing to me. We need real rational arguments, not just an assumption of correctness restated in various ways.

  118. Joel, link didn’t work for me on the download. But abstract seemed to say it all. “Unconsitutional” has many possible different meanings. We equivocate when we move between them as if they didn’t matter.

  119. “Suppose that I do believe that Iraq war both just and a last resort (and was for excellent reasons), as my Father does. Your argument offers nothing but the assertion that it was not.”

    I’m not *asserting* that it was not. I laid the groundwork for the *presumption* that it was not (we presume it was not because we are generally asked to “renounce war and proclaim peace,” by both the Savior and his Prophets). That’s the way presumptions work. You bear the burden of persuasion. The fact that you believe the Iraq war was just and a last resort does nothing in the way of addressing the presumption that wars are unjust by proving that they were just and a last resort.

    “We need real rational arguments, not just an assumption of correctness restated in various ways.”

    Again, it’s not an assumption, it’s a presumption of correctness. “We” don’t need rational arguments once the presumption has been established. You do. If you rebut that presumption, then “we” engage in further rational argument.

    “We have found our differing unproven and unprovable assumptions and the discussion has reached it’s logical conclusion unless someone cares to take the burden of proof on themselves and try to prove their assumptions to me and others in a way I/we find rationally coercive.”

    See above. Why should anyone arguing *against* a war bear the burden of proof to rebut the presumption that the war was not just?

    Now, if you want to argue over what the presumption should be, then there’s room for disagreement and rational debate. Same goes if you want to argue over the standard of proof that goes with rebutting that presumption (i.e., should we have an “excellent” reason to depart from the presumption? what does “excellent” mean?). But if one is trying to justify support for the war in Iraq and deviation from the commandment to renounce war and publish peace, “we” don’t have anything to discuss, rationally or otherwise. That burden is on the ones who have deviated.

  120. By analogy (and nevermind if you agree with the current state of 4th Amendment law), warrantless searches are per se unreasonable under the 4th Amendment. If the police conduct a search without a warrant, the government bears the heavy burden of proving that the search was nevertheless reasonable. It’s not enough to simply say “well I believe it was reasonable.” On the defendant’s side, however, it IS enough to simply say “well, it was a warrantless search, so it was unreasonable.” Only after the government rebuts that presumption would there be any need for the defendant to say anything at all.

    Similarly, I’ve tried to establish (and this itself is debatable) that we should presume that wars are unjust, and we should presumably renounce them. If one wants to justify his support for a war, the burden is upon him to show why the particular war is just and that he need not renounce it. Those who renounce the war bear no burden at all, except to say “this was a war, and we renounce war.”

  121. The first rule of Constitutional interpretation is that the words mean what the writers of the document intended them to mean and nothing else. T

    One might argue that the words mean what the informed public at the time would have understood them to mean. The constitution, after all, is a constitution because the public ratified it, not because the writers wrote it.

    For an in-depth discussion of what the founders meant by granting Congress “the power to . . . declare war,” see Professor John B. Mitchell’s “Preemptive War: Is It Constitutional?”

    http://law.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=expresso

    Those depths are exceedingly shallow. The section on the Founders’ understanding simply asserts that the Founders were Christian, therefore that they embraced Catholic Just War doctrine, therefore that they intended Catholic Just War doctrine to be part of the Constitution. Without a single citation to anything any Founder ever said or wrote.

  122. Joel said: “I’m not *asserting* that it was not. I laid the groundwork for the *presumption* that it was not (we presume it was not because we are generally asked to “renounce war and proclaim peace,” by both the Savior and his Prophets). That’s the way presumptions work. You bear the burden of persuasion. The fact that you believe the Iraq war was just and a last resort does nothing in the way of addressing the presumption that wars are unjust by proving that they were just and a last resort. ”

    Joel, I’m not sure if you are misunderstanding what I am saying or the other way around.

    So let me just keep adding to my assumptions here to illustrate the problem with what I think you seem to be arguing.

    Suppose that I do believe that Iraq war both just and a last resort (and was for excellent reasons), as my Father does. Further, suppose that I have started with the presumption that war is bad and that we should renounce war and proclaim peace. But having studied it out, I have become completely convinced in my heart that this war is one of the ones that is just in God’s eyes and that it needs to happen.

    Now given that this is what I supposedly believe (and what my Father really believes, as do many good people) I am at a loss how this is any different from what I said before.

    If where you are going with this is that I have to convince *you* or *I* am not allowed to believe the above, then I think your silliness has been manifest. Of course that’s not the way it works. The only person I have to convince to make up my own mind is *me* and that is that. That’s sort of what it means to make up one’s own mind.

    Now, given that I supposedly believe all that, please assess the pragmatic realities I’m asking you about concerning treaties. Are you not really just saying “treaties are unenforceable for true Christians as I personally define the word ‘Christian’?”

  123. “The section on the Founders’ understanding simply asserts that the Founders were Christian…”

    The entire paper is about the Founders’ understanding. Their understanding “just war” is instructive when interpreting their understanding of “power to . . . declare war.” The author talks about four other things besides the Founders’ understanding of “just war.” You’re right, he needs more support for that section.

  124. But the argument that the Founders believed in the Just War theory is not without merit. John Jay said:

    “It certainly is very desirable that a pacific disposition should prevail among all nations. The most effectual way of producing it is by extending the prevalence and influence of the gospel. Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war.

    Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

  125. FWIW, the 2002 Congressional authorization for use for force was challenged in court and was ruled legal and constitutional. The case was Doe v. Bush, and it went as far as the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doe_v._Bush

    I would prefer to see the courts take a more narrow interpretation on many constitutional issues, but the ruling in this case was definitive: According to the courts, the authorization for use of force was constitutional.

    Now, whether or not it was a good idea or was based on bad information or even outright deception — those are separate issues.

  126. One quick question – does the billboard violate copyright? I know all conference sessions have the notice at the end that use without explicit permission is prohibited, but does this apply to sound bytes and billboards?

  127. Frank,

    The billboard’s use of the quotation is covered by fair use provisions. Even the more extensive quotes on the website are only excerpts that link to the full sources on lds.org.

  128. Dear J. Max and others who think this is cherry-picking of the Prophet’s words to promote a political agenda:
    Someone challenged you to come up with a similar project, something like LDSJustWars.com, and fill it with pro-war quotes from the prophets.

    Let’s see it. I’m sure there are some good ones out there, but I doubt they will be as specific and in support of war as the ones on this site damn war.

    If you do put it together, does that mean you have a political agenda you are promoting, such as being pro-Romney, or being warmongers, or that you are promoting Neocons?

    This is what you are accusing of the project- that it has no merit on its own b/c it is put together by someone who supports Ron Paul and Libertarian ideals.

  129. J Max Wilson:

    Yes. it was an unconstitutional war. If you had read the Constitution, it would be clear. Only Congress has power to declare war, not NATO, the UN, the CFR, or the PRESIDENT. http://www.monitor.net/monitor/0402a/iraqwarunconstitutional.html

    AND as long as Satan is on the loose, there will be conspiracies. I have read the Book of Mormon. I know of the hidden things of darkness. Since the beginning of the earth’s temporal history, from Cain, Lamech, and their Antediluvian followers, to the Jaredites, and to the Nephites, both before and after Christ’s visit to America, secret combinations seeking after power have always sought to prostitute and control government. The reason they did so is simply evidenced by the scriptures. Because government’s sole function is to protect the rights of its citizens, then it is the one organization secret combinations must corrupt and control in order to use it to execute their SATANIC agenda, and to enslave their victims.

    The agenda of secret combinations (conspiracies), the “object” of which is to “murder, and to rob, and to gain power” (Helaman 2:8), strikes at the heart of mankind’s three great God-given rights, namely life, liberty, and property, and is diametrically opposite of God’s plan for His children.

  130. J Max Wilson:

    Congress did not declare the war in Iraq. It was done by the POTUS. Have you not heard?

  131. Lee,
    You didn’t have to curse to make your latest point. It is absolutely cherry picking and I’d wager my life on that assertion. It’s the cafeteria plan in one of the worst kinds of ways, in that to oppose the project, one must *appear* to be distancing from other truths which are in actuality merely sort of like the side of pudding to the whole. One can agree with President Kimball and also agree with other teachings which, while not contradictory, lend a sort of variety absent from that which has been selected. There can be differing opinion in matter of degree, you know, evaluations which are not pro-war but grasp the many facets of history and doctrine, as well as who holds the keys for what time.

    “Contrary” expressions can be put forward, and will be–if not by myself, by others. However, many of the rest of us are operating under (at least) two assumptions not guiding the behavior of those behind the billboard, and we don’t want to become just like them in our counteraction: (1) if the Church isn’t willing to make a declaration obviously applicable to contemporary circumstances, by which, rise or fall, the “true disciples” are detected, individual members certainly shouldn’t be; (2) grouping isolated statements of uneven validity, weight, and circumstance still cannot constitute binding declarations for all time. What this does is not generate discussion, but try to shut it down with heavyhanded and ultimately myopic measures.

  132. Lighten up Kristopher. The Internet is full of “real” curses. I was using damn in the scriptural sense- prophets damned the prospect of war.

    To all those attacking this billboard or Connor:
    -I am not directly connected to the project, just a libertarian-leaning observer, and think it’s great as a conversation starter, and hopefully help people think about our wars in a gospel light.

    -I understand why I and other pro-peace advocates are passionate about projects like this. We are on the outside, trying to make a difference. In our eyes, the President has abused his power by taking us headlong into wars without the consent of congress (such as Libya, Syria). In the case of Iraq, we feel the case for war was misrepresented.
    There’s not much we can do besides protest. The military machine is rolling forward. A very anti-war presidential candidate that ran on the platform of peace has now started several news wars or “conflicts”.
    This current trend is frightening. It doesn’t make sense financially. The goals are not clear, why we are there, what our mission is. Over 1 million have died as a result of us destabilizing Iraq alone.
    This is why we are passionate.

    MY QUESTION TO THOSE THAT OPPOSE:
    Why are you so passionate about preserving the status quo, the current wars, the current direction? What is in it for you, what gain do you see in defending the current military actions our country is taking?

    I sincerely do not understand. There are *some* valid points to be made on the anti-billboard side. But also much lint-picking, attacks on the people involved, etc. Why are you so worked up about it? Do you think it hurts your candidate or your party in some way? Is it just the thought that the words of our church leaders are being used to promote the agenda of non-aggression and peace? I’m sincerely interested in where you are coming from.

  133. Ms. Kristine,
    help me out. When you say Congress didn’t authorize the war on Iraq, are you saying that the authorization JMax Wilson linked to didn’t happen, or are you saying that it doesn’t count?

  134. One of the things that I keep getting on this site is the suggestion that the Libertarians put up this sign or are “followers of Connor”. That is ridiculous! I believe I am the FIRST contributor to the billboard. I have NEVER met Connor, never purchased any of his books (or had them given to me), never been to a planning meeting, and I live in the most liberal precinct in SLC.

    I am a seeker of TRUTH. When I find it, I not only proclaim it, I do my best to dispel all the falsehoods that abound, in and out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    It would be pretty interesting to see how many of you would have reacted to the teachings of Jesus Christ when he came to his own. His own family rejected him. Some even professed frustration because they never understood his mission. He taught peace and charity. How can one be so venomous of his position? Guilt alone.

    I cannot speak for Connor but as for me, I do this out of love – for my family, my fellow LDS, my Church, my country, and especially because I know that ultimately only I can stand before God. I have felt the love in my own heart and shared it with others. How that love is received is up to all of you.

  135. Kristine,
    the loving way in which you told me I was a guilty enemy of Christ if I didn’t like this billboard made quite an impression on me.

  136. Adam- Many constitutional scholars have pointed out the authorizing war by a “resolution” is not a valid approach to war. We should be declaring war, not authorizing “police actions” etc.
    We technically haven’t been at “war” in decades. Vietnam, Korea, current Muslim wars- all resolutions, or ‘kinetic actions’ that had no US authorization at all.

  137. Adam:

    The United States Congress never voted for the Iraq war. Rather, Congress voted for a resolution in October 2002 which unlawfully transferred to the president the decision-making power of whether to launch a first-strike invasion of Iraq. The United States Constitution vests the awesome power of deciding whether to send the nation into war solely in the United States Congress.

    Those members of Congress — including certain Democratic presidential candidates — who voted for that October resolution cannot now claim that they were deceived, as some of them do. By unlawfully ceding the war-declaring power to the president, they allowed the president to start a war against Iraq based on whatever evidence or whatever lies he chose. The members of Congress who voted for that October resolution are as complicit in this illegal war as is the president himself.

  138. In October 2002, Congress passed a resolution which stated: “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to 1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and 2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.” As he determines to be necessary and appropriate.

    Congress cannot transfer to the president its exclusive power to declare war any more than it can transfer its exclusive power to levy taxes. Such a transfer is illegal. These are non-delegable powers held only by the United States Congress.

    In drafting the War Powers Clause of Article I, Section 8, the framers of the Constitution set out to create a nation that would be nothing like the model established by European monarchies. They knew the dangers of empowering a single individual to decide whether to send the nation into war. They had sought to make a clean break from the kings and queens of Europe, those rulers who could, of their own accord, send their subjects into battle. That is why the framers wisely decided that only the people, through their elected representatives in Congress, should be entrusted with the power to start a war.

    The wars of kings and queens of Europe had brought not only havoc and destruction to the lives of those forced into battle and those left to suffer their loss. They had also brought poverty. They were stark symbols that the subjects living under such monarchies lacked any voice or any control over their destiny.

    The War Powers Clause of the Constitution emerged from that collective memory: “Congress shall have power…To declare war… ” No other language in the Constitution is as simple and clear.

    There was absolutely no Constitutional reason to invade Iraq. If our foreign policy were that of a Constitutional Republic and not a socialist empire, we would not be tangled up in this entire middle eastern quagmire and sending our money and more importantly, our best and bravest citizens over there to be squandered for the benefit of a handful of individuals. I just can’t help but think that if we were not constantly exporting our foreign policy into the middle east they wouldn’t have attacked us on 9/11 but then forgive me for not believing George Bushes utterly vacuous statement that “they attacked us because they hate freedom”.

  139. Lee,
    I don’t see the difference, frankly.

    Kristine,
    I see the point about wrongfully delegating powers to the President. But I’m not sure it matters much, since (1) everyone knew the President was going to decide to invade, so Congress did essentially vote for the war, (2) Congress voted and kept voting to fund the war, and (3) under the Constitution, the President has authority to decide whether to send the troops in to a country or not, even if Congress declares war. So I don’t see the practical difference here.
    I like your discussion about *why* the Constitution gave Congress the ability to declare war, but I honestly don’t see that the Iraq War authorization was out of step with those reasons. It didn’t expand the President’s power at the expense of Congress because Congress didn’t make a general delegation, they only made a specific delegation with respect to one country, which is pretty much the same thing a declaration of war does.
    On the other hand, your argument that a war can be unconstitutional even if it doesnt’ violate the text of the Constitution is kinda a headscratcher.

  140. I never said that you were a guilty enemy of Christ if you don’t like the billboard. Why do you make things up as you go?

    All I said about the billboard is why I contributed. You are contentious.

  141. Adam:

    Call it what you want. It was unconstitutional. You may be educated in the art of debate but you need to first learn what the issues are.

  142. I never said that you were a guilty enemy of Christ if you don’t like the billboard.

    Quite true. You implied it.

    Why do you make things up as you go?

    When else would I make them up?

    You are contentious.

    Thanks for treading the measure with me.

    Call it what you want. It was unconstitutional. You may be educated in the art of debate but you need to first learn what the issues are.

    I accept your concession that I outdebated you, though humility forces me to admit that I had the stronger side of the argument.

  143. Adam:

    You are the one who said it didn’t violate the text of the Constitution. It does.

    We are [men] of action. Lies do not become us. (Westley from Princess Bride)

  144. Dear Adam, Max, Kristopher, and all those opposed to the project:
    Will you respond to my questions in post 151?

  145. Adam:

    Where in ANY of my posts did I say that you are a “guilty enemy of Christ”?

    I am very sorry for you. You’re willful misinterpretation of everything uplifting on this thread is apparent. Remember that ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance leads to servitude.

    I would really love to see that you truly are a humble follower of Christ but your lies preceded you.

    Why don’t you respond to Lee’s question? Is it because you are only here as an enemy to Connor and just like to be contentious?

    Explain away. I am leaving the thread. ☺

  146. OK, here’s my response:

    I don’t believe you’re sincerely interested. Look at the tone of your questions. Look at the fact that I and everyone else *already* explained our viewpoint in this thread. Your questions amount to ‘I’m sincerely puzzled how you can continue to be so wrong when I am obviously so right.’ Which is the kind of sincere puzzlement that I can’t help you with.

  147. Lee: I appreciate the offer to make my own website of pro war quotes. The problems I have, which are highlighted by the billboard, will not be solved by a counterwebsite and billboard doing the same.

    1. I feel it is inappropriate to prooftext a prophet’s words to support your political position. (Anti mormons use Brigham Young quotes to say all sorts of things that don’t represent Mormon doctrine. Yet anti war quotes get a different treatment from some people.)

    2. It is even more inappropriate to question the spirituality of those that disagree with your prooftexted position.

    3. The problem is compounded because the church has clearly specified where doctrine comes from; it is not from a smattering of talks from past pacifist prophets.

    4. The prophets have, at the very least, contradictory positions on warfare. So what ends up occuring is something I call “prophet bashing”, where people take their various prooftexted positions and proceed to beat each other the head with them. (I borrow the term from “bible bashing” that occurs so frequently on a mission.) So you have people who take the GAs that agree with them, like Clark from the 30s and 40s, while explaining away those that don’t, such as Hinckley from 2003. And vice versa. I feel this is not a behavior that loving Latter Day Saints should use against their brothers and sisters in the gospel. Again, it is extremely inapropriate to declare a position butressed by your reading of non doctrinal texts to browbeat and label your opponents as unrighteous.

    5. The brethren have clearly indicated that doctrine is found in the 4 standard works of the church.(linked above) There are very clear scriptures that support war such as Alma 43:47. If you take all the scriptures the message about war is contradictory at best.

    6. Since the standard works proclaim doctrine and isolated talks do not, I focus on the former. I have a website devoted to the study of the war. You can try posts such as “The Duplicity of the War Critic” linked above, “offensive warfare in the BoM” which is a miniversion of an essay in publication at Kofford books that defended pre emptive war using the BoM, “Is the BoM antiwar”, “We’re gonna need more mace” which was an after action report from a conference about Mormon Perspectives on war. Those are a few of the posts that address modern issues. I feel they do so with a respectful tone that doesn’t question the righteousness of those who disagree. Of course I can always work on my tone, but I don’t sponsor a billboard for the purpose of prophet bashing. Thanks again for the offer but two wrongs don’t make a right.

  148. Ms. Kristine,

    if I might take the liberty of summarizing your last post, it would be like this:

    1. I never said you were a guilty enemy of Christ.

    2. You are an ignorant thrall of Satan; you aren’t a humble follower of Christ; you are a liar.

  149. Adam, my take on your comments above is that:
    You don’t like Connor’s style/message/libertarian politics, and you don’t like the use of Church leader’s words to support that message.

    What I’ve asked in addition to that

    MY QUESTION TO THOSE THAT OPPOSE:
    Why are you so passionate about preserving the status quo, the current wars, the current direction? What is in it for you, what gain do you see in defending the current military actions our country is taking?

    Please answer, or not. Let’s not get into attacks on the other’s character or call names. That question is very sincere- I don’t get it, and I’m interested in where you are coming from. Where does this passionate zeal for the current direction of our wars come from?

  150. What you’ve asked isn’t in addition. Your assumption, which has been repeatedly rebutted, is that no one can legitimately oppose the billboard on the grounds they’ve stated, so they must actually be partisans for current US foreign policy. So you’re asking us to explain our support for current US foreign policy, without anyone in this thread actually having stated that they do support it.

  151. I see. Those who oppose can attack Connor and libertarians personally, and libertarianism in general, but they can’t explain where they are coming from.

    Why are you arguing other points if that’s all this discussion is supposed to be about?

    You are arguing for Neocon positions in several threads. Now that I ask you to explain your zeal for Neocon politics, I am out of order?

    The reason you are not explaining your zeal for these policies is that it has no logical explanation. The best tactic is to use a red herring to sideline the discussion.

  152. Is it just me, or is this discussion no longer productive? We all have different views of the events going on in the world. We all interpret the same scriptures/talks differently based on our experiences. So can’t we all just agree to disagree? :)

  153. Yeah, I’m beginning to feel like this is a “Groundhog Day” experience. Last chance for comments then I’m going to close this thread.

  154. Lee, Geoff and I are both Libertarian and both oppose the current wars. That said, we both realize that there are legitimate statements on both sides of the issue, including Pres Hinckley’s 2003 statement.

    The problem with a billboard is that most people do not know who may be behind it, what real agenda may be involved, etc. Also, not all Libertarians see things regarding these wars in the way others do. For example, Neal Boortz is for the wars on terror, including in Iraq. And he is truly a thinking man’s Libertarian. I’m a Libertarian, and I initially supported the wars. That said, I now oppose them, because the occupations do not take us where we need to be, but confuse a successful war with other objectives. That said, I do understand (or try to understand) the various arguments on all sides. Proclaiming one POV as holy and the others as evil does not take into account all the nuances. For example, most Libertarians are pro-abortion as a freedom. I’m wondering which side does Kristine sit on regarding this? Is she pro/con abortion, and does she consider those who disagree as evil? As it is, there are arguments regarding Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness on both sides.

    Finally, The Constitution does note that Congress must declare war. However, it does not specify how it is to do this. So, if Congress approves and funds an invasion/occupation, it seems to me that we’re just playing with semantics to say that Iraq and Afghanistan were illegal or unconstitutional. There are many things the federal government does, which are not constitutional, but the method of declaring war is not, IMNSHO.

    Finally, for Kristine, if you enter a discussion loaded for bear and shooting at anything that moves, don’t be surprised when the bear attacks back. And just declaring yourself a libertarian or Mormon does not mean you know the concepts behind libertarianism or Mormonism. I’ve deeply studied both for decades. I was a member of Skousen’s Freemen Institute in the early 1980s, when it was just in its infancy. Today, I study many of the articles and books provided by Cato and Lew Rockwell at Auburn University. As for Mormonism, I’m a member of FAIR, and write a blog on scripture that probably would run circles around most members’ understanding of our canon. Online, I hang out with some of the Church’s best scholars, and feel lucky to have been with this wonderful group for 20 years.

    So, please do not condemn us, or infer you are condemning us, simply because we view things differently than you. Quoting a prophet or viewpoint that modern prophets do not teach, may be a dangerous thing. Just ask BYU religion professor Bot about not keeping up with the actual doctrine. I’m sure he wishes he could take back everything he said in his interview about blacks and priesthood. Yes, they were things that were considered correct about 50 years ago, but the Church harshly condemned Brother Bott for saying something that we just do not believe today.

    So, be careful on quoting someone. First make sure it is in context with your message, and second make sure it hasn’t been trumped by a current prophet (as in the case of Pres Hinckley approving the war on terror).

  155. Why are you so passionate about preserving the status quo, the current wars, the current direction? What is in it for you, what gain do you see in defending the current military actions our country is taking?

    Just because we do not agree with some of the libertarian ways in which you want to change the status quo does not mean that we want things to continue in the way they are. Honest, good, righteous people can differ about what the best course of change would be, and what exactly should be changed.

    I agree that the members of the church should be more thoughtful about war, its justifications, its consequences, and what the prophets have said about it. I am uncomfortable with the way the words of prophets have been conscripted into the service of your particular political ideology, with no room for nuance or debate without being accused of rejecting the prophets.

    I sincerely do not understand. There are *some* valid points to be made on the anti-billboard side.

    Thank you for admitting that at least some of our points are valid.

    But also much lint-picking, attacks on the people involved, etc.

    I said early on in this conversation that the people behind the billboard are good, honest members of the church. I know two of them personally. But I strongly believe that they are making a mistake by conflating their own personal politics with the inerrant truth of the Gospel.

    Why are you so worked up about it? Do you think it hurts your candidate or your party in some way? Is it just the thought that the words of our church leaders are being used to promote the agenda of non-aggression and peace? I’m sincerely interested in where you are coming from.

    President Kimball said: “Please avoid, even by implication, involving the Church in political issues. It is so easy, if we are not careful, to project our personal preferences as the position of the Church on an issue.” (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/05/boys-need-heroes-close-by?lang=eng)

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I remember the early 90s when there was a group of conspiracy minded, conservative Latter-day Saints who supported marginal presidential candidate “Bo” Grites and conflated their politics with Gospel. It was a serious problem in some circles and something that was worrisome to the church.

    In June of that year (1992) Elder Oaks gave an address in which he said:

    “A desire to follow a prophet is surely a great and appropriate strength, but even this has its potentially dangerous manifestations. I have heard of more than one group who are so intent on following the words of a dead prophet that they have rejected the teachings and counsel of the living ones.
    […]
    A related distortion is seen in the practice of those who select a few sentences from the teachings of a prophet and use these to support their political agenda or other personal purposes. In doing so, they typically ignore the contrary implications of other prophetic words, or even the clear example of the prophet’s own actions. For example, I have corresponded with several Church members who sought to use something President Benson is quoted as saying as a basis for refusing to file an income-tax return or to pay income taxes. I have tried to persuade these persons that their interpretation cannot be what President Benson intended, because both he and his predecessors in that sacred office, and all of the General Authorities, have faithfully filed their income-tax returns and paid the taxes required by law. The servants of God are under the Master’s commands to follow him and to be examples to the flock (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 5:3). We should interpret their words in the light of their walk. To wrest the words of a prophet to support a private agenda, political or financial or otherwise, is to try to manipulate the prophet, not to follow him.” (http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=7087)

    That is why I am concerned about it. That is why I think it is inappropriate. Of course we should review our politics in light of the gospel, but we must be continuously careful that we don’t cross that line that Elder Oaks and President Kimball have drawn.

    I don’t see much concern by supporters of the billboard about whether they might be crossing that line. Which in itself is a red flag.

    At a very minimum supporters should be saying “I understand why you are concerned. There is the danger that this is inappropriate. Let me explain why I think that it is not.” Instead they accuse those who have concerns of rejecting the prophets without batting an eye. That too is a big red flag.

    Thanks for the discussion. Now let’s put it aside and enjoy listening to the words of our living Apostles during conference this weekend.

  156. Jmax, I think you make the best case yet for your position on this. I continue to feel that the billboard does not promote a *specific* ideology (other than being opposed to war) and that 99.999 percent of the people who see it will have absolutely no idea who (probably commies!) put it up. If they go to the web site they will be surprised at some of the things they read, and it may give them pause when a President Romney tries to gin up support for a useless war against Syria. That is the true purpose.

    However, your points are valid and I hope they will be internalized and weighed carefully by all involved.

    Have a great Conference weekend everyone! Comments will now be closed on this thread.

  157. Final word from me, anyone who starts warning about specific secret combinations from Gary Allen, or John Birch society has already lost my interest. I first read Gary Allen and JBS stuff back in the 1970s. And I believed it for a time. However, I’ve since learned that conspiracy theories are just that, theories. For those who promote it as fact, and treat others as idiots for not listening, perhaps they should realize that some of us have already reviewed it and are not yet convinced.

    Yes, there are secret combinations out there. I am not convinced that Masons, Illumninati, or the Rothchilds are involved in anything.

    I do believe that the prophets will tell us just who are those secret combinations, or they will reveal themselves in unmistakable ways (such as gangs, drug dealers, or terrorists).

    Let us not confuse conspiracy theories with the gospel. It is looking beyond the mark, just as it is to read the book of Revelation to try and figure out who the Beast is. In doing so, we miss out on the most important teachings in Revelation, such as the book as an endowment.

    Libertarianism and John Birch conspiracies are not the same thing. Unfortunately, some members combine them into a new gospel, and in doing so damage the Church.

    I knew a man in Utah back in the early 1980s who was a LDS Bircher. He claimed to have had angels teach him to prepare for the invasion by the Soviet Union by stocking weapons and food up into the Uintahs. He was told he would lead a group of freedom fighters. Well, here we are 30 years later, he is in his 70s and does not have the health to lead any group into the mountains. Let’s not look beyond the mark of the gospel.

    While the billboard itself may not do this, the website has links that do just that. What a dangerous way to lead people away from the modern prophets!

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