Amid the controversy swirling around President Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim countries, the LDS Church issued a statement late Saturday night urging solutions that relieve refugee suffering.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth,” the statement said, “with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering.”
On Friday afternoon, Trump signed an executive order that suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for four months. It also cut the number of refugees the United States will accept this year to 50,000, down from the 110,000 set by President Barack Obama.
The order barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry to anyone from countries with terrorism concerns for 90 days. The State Department said those countries are seven predominantly Muslim nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
That led religious faiths throughout the United States to voice concerns about religious freedom.
This is the second time the LDS Church has responded to Trump’s calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a strong statement in December 2015 soon after Trump on the campaign trail called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States.
Like Saturday’s statement, the December 2015 statement did not name Trump or refer specifically to the controversy, but it said that while the faith is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns, “it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom.”
Grant Hardy became intrigued with world religions, especially those of East Asia, as a young missionary. He has reasearched and written widely on various topics, but his study of the Book of Mormon led him to publish two landmark books that share important insights.
In his brief overview to Understanding the Book of Mormon, Hardy gives us ten observations about the Book of Mormon:
It is a long book.
It is written in a somewhat awkward, repetitious form of English.
It imitates the style of the King James Version.
It claims to be history.
It presents a complicated narrative.
It is a religious text.
It is basically a tragedy.
It is very didactic.
It is a human artifact.
Its basic structure is derived from the three narrators.
It is this last observation that forms the thesis for the majority of his work. Hardy contends that “If you’re not seeing the narrators at every turn, you’re not really reading the Book of Mormon–because that’s how the book is constructed, regardless of who the author(s) may have been.”
The three main narrators (Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni) each had distinct approaches as they presented history and revelation in their writings.
Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast as she has an enjoyable back-and-forth with an outstanding Book of Mormon scholar.
President Spencer W. Kimball, counseling priesthood leaders, said:
“We are concerned that too many times the interviewing leader in his personal sympathies for the transgressor, and in his love perhaps for the family of the transgressor, is inclined to waive the discipline which that transgressor demands.
“Too often a transgressor is forgiven and all penalties waived when that person should have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated. Too often a sinner is disfellowshipped when he or she should have been excommunicated. …
“Do you remember what was said by the prophet Alma? ‘Now,’ he said, ‘repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment.’ [Alma 42:16.]
“Ponder on that for a moment. Have you realized that? There can be no forgiveness without real and total repentance, and there can be no repentance without punishment. This is as eternal as is the soul. …
“Please remember these things when somebody comes before you who has broken the laws of God.
“It is so easy to let our sympathies carry us out of proportion; and when a man has committed sin, he must suffer. It’s an absolute requirement—not by the bishop—but it’s a requirement by nature and by the very part of a man.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 116; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 78.)
In November 2014, Smithsonian Magazine named Joseph Smith as the most influence American religious figure of all time.
This founder of the Mormon religion also ran for president of the United States during the last year of his life. Though he left a much smaller imprint on the political scene than the religious one, there is one document in our current canonized scripture that is dedicated to enumerating LDS beliefs regarding governments and laws.
Ironically, though Joseph Smith would refer to it during his lifetime, he didn’t actually author it. What is now D&C 134 was written in 1835 by Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon and was accepted by common consent in a conference held in Smith’s absence. No leader then or now referred to it as direct revelation from God but rather a declaration of principles.
The document proved highly adaptable as it was used to protest and support the US government. It was also used in petitions to the US Congress for redress from Missouri persecutions.
As part of the Revelations in Context series, McBride shares his insights into this document and its reception and use by early Mormon Apostle Lyman Wight.
Spencer W. McBride believes that members will benefit from the study of the past. He maintains that “Mormons will better understand their own religion if they have a deeper understanding of American history, and Americans will better understand their past if they understand the smaller aspect of the Mormon world.”