Revelations in Context: D&C 134 – Of Governments and Laws

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.”

Book of Mormon Socialism: The Marxist Gadianton Robbers

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

Some LDS proponents of Socialism like to compare capitalism to the infamous Gadianton Robbers in the Book of Mormon. It seems a simple line to draw between the “Profit Motive” of Capitalism and the secret combination of the Gadiantons to “get gain.” Too simple in fact. A more careful reading shows that in some ways the Gadianton Robbers seem to be more like Marxist Revolutionaries.

Chapter 3 of the book of 3rd Nephi in the Book of Mormon is interesting in that it is one of the few sections of the text which purports to give us a glimpse of how the Gadianton Robbers viewed themselves, rather than how they were viewed by Mormon and his Nephite protagonists. Verses 2 through 10 are the record of an epistle written to the governor of the Nephites, Lachoneus, from the leader of the Gadianton Robbers, Giddianhi:

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Guest Post: We Wouldn’t Be in This Mess, If… We had been True to the Constitution

M* is pleased to present a guest post from Brother Earl Taylor, Jr., President of the National Center for Constitutional Studies.

About Brother Taylor:

 Earl Taylor, Jr.  has taught The Making of America Constitutional Study course to thousands of people over the past twenty years throughout the nation.  He has developed other study courses for a wide range of participants, from high school students to state legislators.

 Educated in Washington State and Arizona, Mr. Taylor graduated from Arizona State University and received his Masters Degree in Political Science from George Wythe College and Coral Ridge Baptist University.  He has had the privilege of being privately tutored by Dr. W. Cleon Skousen over the course of many years.  He became President of the National Center for Constitutional Studies in 1995, an organization founded by Dr. Skousen in 1971 as the Freemen Institute.  The purpose of the NCCS is to teach Americans the exciting message of the Founding Fathers – where they got their great ideas and how they put them all together into a Constitution for the establishment of the first free people in modern times.  In 1998, Mr. Taylor was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from George Wythe College and Coral Ridge Baptist University.  He also serves as a member of the adjunct faculty of George Wythe College.

 Mr. Taylor served as coordinator in 1985 of the Winter Conference for State Legislators where nearly 400 elected officials from 30 states met to study The Making of America.  He has written a special study guide for Boy Scouts to help them earn their Citizenship Merit Badges.   He also helped structure courses on the U. S. Constitution for college re-certification of public school teachers.
 
 In his desire to begin to train young people in this most important area, Mr. Taylor established one of the first charter high schools in Arizona, Heritage Academy,  where he has developed a special curriculum for the teaching of hundreds of students the exciting message of the Founding Fathers.

 Mr. Taylor has also been instrumental in encouraging the celebration of Constitution Week in many cities and schools throughout the nation.

 Mr. Taylor and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of ten children and reside in Mesa, Arizona. Continue reading

Immigration Debate: What to do about scholarships in Arizona?

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Arizona students protest Proposition 300 (Photo courtesy of Cronkite News Service, ASU)Arizona students protest Proposition 300 (Photo courtesy of Cronkite News Service, ASU)In Arizona, voters approved a ballot measure in 2006, Proposition 300, which makes it illegal to use tax dollars to fund services for those not in the country legally. 

Not surprisingly, immigrant’s rights groups protested the measure as heartless and cold. While supporters of the proposition hailed it as a cost savings to Arizona taxpayers.

Given the Church’s admonition to take a more humane approach to the immigration debate, I would like to examine the impact that Proposition 300 has on students at Arizona’s universities and ask the readers of Millennial Star to propose humane solutions to the problem. Continue reading