Captain America and today’s Gadiantons

Note: There be spoilers here.  Ye have been warned.

In the Marvel comic world a few decades ago, a Civil War broke out among the superheroes.  For the sake of national security, SHIELD (under Tony Stark) has decided that all superheroes should release their true identities, along with other key initiatives that increase security and safety at the cost of individual liberties.  Captain America (Steve Rogers) leads the fight against this, soon turning into a Civil War between superheroes.  When an innocent bystander dies in front of Capt America, he realizes that he cannot continue a battle that would ostensibly kill millions of innocents. So, he surrenders, only to be murdered while in handcuffs. Behind all of this shenanigans is Captain America’s old nemesis from WW2, the Red Skull and his secret organization, Hydra.  They get their name from the mythological Greek monster, where if you cut off its head, two more will grow in its place.

In the modern world of movies, Marvel is recreating this concept of a SHIELD that has been infiltrated heavily by members of Hydra. (Spoiler Alert).  In the new Captain America movie, Hydra forces Nick Fury underground and takes over major portions of SHIELD. Fury wants to remove Hydra from SHIELD, but Steve Rogers (Capt America) determines the only way to destroy Hydra is to destroy SHIELD.  Apparently, previous films lead up to this dilemma.  You’ll remember that in the first Capt America film, the Tesseract, a stone of power owned by the Norse god Odin (Thor’s father) is obtained by the Red Skull.  Captain America’s plane goes down into frozen animation for decades with the Tesseract, until recovered by Nick Fury.  In the Avengers movie, the Tesseract has been used by SHIELD for various energy and power experiments, and then used by Loki to open a portal to an alien invasion of New York City.  Unknown previously, it is the Hydra within SHIELD that has sought these events.  Marvel’s own 9/11 event causes the people to insist on greater security and protection: even though the danger was created by the same agency that is supposed to protect!

ABC’s Agents of SHIELD is also engaged in this same collapse, with Hydra now coming out of hiding and forcing agents to choose sides, and never certain who might be a double agent.

It is interesting how art imitates life.  Our own actions after 9/11 sought to increase safety and security with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.  Bush’s doctrine of preemption or “get the bad guys before they get you” was established. Enhanced interrogation techniques were developed.  All of this in the name of protecting our nation.  These decisions may have been made with the best of intentions at the time.

Thirteen years later, we can see the results of those actions.  Security has increased to the point that the NSA now knows all of our personal phone numbers, the IRS is punishing whomever they deem to be a bad guy, the CIA is killing Americans with drones, and the Justice Department seems to be lawless.  Freedoms are lost and more are in peril, because of our desire to be safe.  Whether our DHS/SHIELD has been infiltrated by a Hydra-like organization or this is the natural effect of a vast bureaucracy, who knows?  But the end results are the same.

We can potentially see ties with the Book of Mormon’s Gadianton bands.  They sought power, believing that their secret combinations were good.  They made their oaths in the name of God, believing they were doing heaven and earth a favor by establishing their secret combinations.  Crises were created by the Gadiantons (murder, coup-d’etat, war, intrigue) to keep Nephite and Lamanite governments off balance. Even prophet/governors, like Helaman, were often not able to divine who the bad guys were, until it was too late.  Why did Captain Moroni require a big military that shored up security in the border lands, building cities where nomadic Lamanites once lived?  It seems he sought to strengthen Nephite hands, but actually fed into the Lamanite belief that the Nephites were trying to take them over – leading to one of the longest and worst wars the Nephites had ever had. His actions of preemption may have allowed Gadiantons to take advantage (Amalickiah’s rise to power among the Lamanites comes to mind).

Are we seeing modern day Gadiantons infiltrating governments (including our own) and other organizations, using their abilities to destabilize families and cities, creating huge government bureaucracies within which they can hide themselves and their works?  Do they think they are building a Utopian society over which they shall rule?  Is it becoming so obvious that art is now imitating the real state of affairs in America and everywhere?

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

14 thoughts on “Captain America and today’s Gadiantons

  1. Science fiction/fantasy stories often show us aspects of real life that many people have never considered. SHIELD has always seemed an alarming organization to me. It is completely unconstitutional and routinely violates the sovereignty of nations (all in “good” causes of course). The NSA obviously feels it is similar to SHIELD. But we are seeing that even if there are good intentions behind such out of control organizations, the results are a reduction in our liberty. The point of government is to protect liberty, not to destroy it. And it is easy to see that an all-powerful organization like SHIELD could be taken over by the “bad guys,” just as the NSA could (or maybe it already is).

    There are so many Gadianton organizations today that I have lost count. The all-purpose warnings in the Book of Mormon are playing out in front of our eyes.

  2. The prophets and apostles of the mid 20th century ranted and raved on the threat you describe and it was flatly ignored because the people were decieved by wealth. Now we are reaping what was sown by our failure to be diligent in the heed of their counsel.

  3. It is always instructive to read what the prophets had to say in past generations. The prophets were especially outspoken about political trends in the 1930s and 1940s, and as rg says they warned about militarism and too much government on a regular basis. Too bad we didn’t heed their warnings.

  4. I just finished reading a biography of C. S. Lewis that descibed his use of fiction such as the Narnia series to explore moral issues. Marvel comics and the films based on same have addressed serious issues that should concern all of us. It is notable that these stories have caught the attention of those who are either ignorant or dismissive of scriptural warning.

  5. In a democracy, people are free to give away as much freedom as they would like. Like Esau and his bowl of porridge, if Americans collectively support the NSA and its practices, (and they do), then this has nothing to do with subversive Gadiantan secrets.

    But when Americans collectively complain about things NSA does, NSA will stop, like it recently did with phone tapping.

    It would only be Gadiantan if the NSA’s practices were unaccountable to elected representation. But it is completely accountable. There is no secret combination. Only an elected, highly non-secret combination.

  6. “But when Americans collectively complain about things NSA does, NSA will stop” – but only if the people find out about what they are doing, and the NSA, GCHQ (in my own country) and other such organisations go to great lengths to prevent people finding out what they do – hence the whistleblowers get hunted down.

    But governments are not the only modern-day Gadiantons; I’ve also seen them up close and personal in business. I think our society is rife with Gadiantons and they are largely supported by the people

  7. We only know about what the NSA is doing because of a whistleblower (Snowden) who currently resides in exile. So, our “open” society was unable to complain about the secrets occurring, until those secrets were brought forth out of obscurity by someone willing to be considered a traitor. So, there are secrets being kept.

    We’re even keeping secrets openly now. Nancy Pelosi told us we’d have to pass Obamacare first, before we find out what is inside of it! How brazen is that?

    Interestingly, I just found this link that says many of the things I do here: The Rothbardian Implications of Captain America: the Winter Soldier

  8. “And it is easy to see that an all-powerful organization like SHIELD could be taken over by the “bad guys,” just as the NSA could (or maybe it already is).”

    Geoff, no need to get personal. 🙂

  9. MT, as you already probably can guess, I have no problems with individual employees of government agencies who are just trying to feed their families and are happy to have jobs in a down economy. I have no problems with individual soldiers who are doing their duty in an honorable way. I have big problems with the general direction of American military and intelligence policy, but that is more the fault of the politicians than the individuals in the military and intelligence.

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