Is the LDS Church In Its Rights To Shut Down A Dissenting View In Sacrament Meeting?

September 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Posted in American politics | 7 Comments

Something about this just doesn’t seem very healthy to me. On a personal level, this man’s view or even testimony is no threat to me or my testimony. Nor is the truthfulness of the Gospel a threat by him sharing his dissenting views with a political move by the church as an organization. Is Sacrament Meeting so sacred a place that no politics should be discussed therein? Or just politics that the church approves of? Because, clearly politics are discussed from the pulpit in sacrament meeting. They are discussed in General Conference by the leadership of the Church. I linked in my earlier post of President David O McKay actually recommending during General Conference that church members read an extremist polemicist, Cleon Skousen. Something seems wrong to me about this.



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  1. Ugh. What are we coming to, when we’re not free to express how we feel? Tragic. (I did find it odd that it was recorded on video.)

  2. Wade,

    I think that this individual and his friends were wanting to make sure there was a video of it. There is a second video from another angle which isn’t as good quality. He clearly has been wanting to make this point.

  3. f_fife,

    I delete your comments because you have that reprehensible avatar up. As long as you keep that reprehensible avatar as your avatar, I shall always delete your comments. If you toy with me, I will simply put your comments in moderation. Now you could be grown up about this, or childish about this. It is your choice.

  4. I can’t see the video as it is blocked by the firewall here at work. If I can, I’ll watch it later.

    I do see a clear right for the LDS Church to restrict political speech in its buildings. The church make it clear they do not endorse parties or politicians, but do engage politically in areas that affect the church, its doctrines, and the lives of its members as it relates to following the gospel and maintaining our freedoms. As the implementation of church policy at the ward level is dependent on the leadership of the bishop, I also understand that the actions taken will vary from ward to ward.

    In my opinion, this in no way interferes with the constitional notion of separation of church and state.

  5. Daniel,

    Do you have a creed/manifesto that defines your position in the political spectrum? I don’t yet either, but I’m interested in your take on the essay by Ezra T. Benson, “The Proper Role of Government.”

    You can find it at:

  6. Scott,

    I don’t think of this in terms of the question of separation of church and state, but rather should not a member be allowed to express a dissenting view within the public venue of sacrament meeting to a position the church takes on a political matter?

    I worry about the slippery slope argument that opening up sacrament to dissenting views will open a floodgate for lots of dissenting views, and thus sacrament meeting becomes just the same as any other venue. I think in the end, I lean on the status quo where politics stay clear of sacrament to whatever extent possible. I like that there is a place where I don’t have to have walls of defense up with other people.

    As for your second question regarding Ezra Taft Benson’s thoughts on the role of government, well, to put simply, I think he is wrong, and I do not agree with his interpretation of the guiding principles the Founding Fathers had on the role of government. I think that particular piece was written in a time, and toward a particular “enemy” that dates it and limits its viability. Benson is of the type who wishes Americans to think the Founding Fathers never disagreed, particularly on issues of greatest import. But they did. For everything Madison said, Hamilton countered with his own salient thoughts. Thus the Federalist Papers having contradictory analyses. Take “general welfare” found in Article I section 8 of the Constitution. Madison thinks it should be construed narrowly. Unpredictably, Hamilton disagrees.

    I appreciate Benson as a prophet, but strongly disagree with his politics. I am glad current church leadership has moderated itself from previous stances, yet even today they are still far too conservative. I was highly disappointed with President Hinckley’s support of the war in Iraq in April 2003. You can read my analysis of his War and Peace talk here.

    I think the Ezra Taft Bensons of the world are far too overly concerned about communism.

  7. As for creed, I think Obama said it best when he defended liberalism at his Joint Session Congress speech on health care.

    That large-heartedness — that concern and regard for the plight of others — is not a partisan feeling. It’s not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character — our ability to stand in other people’s shoes; a recognition that we are all in this together, and when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand; a belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgment that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.

    This has always been the history of our progress. In 1935, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism, but the men and women of Congress stood fast, and we are all the better for it. In 1965, when some argued that Medicare represented a government takeover of health care, members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — did not back down. They joined together so that all of us could enter our golden years with some basic peace of mind.

    You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.

    I thought that explained it best. Ezra Taft Benson could never see this. I would add only one more thing which Obama didn’t really get into: corporations are far more powerful and influential than individuals, yet corporations want to be treated as live human beings. Without a strong government to hold back corporate control of the country, our freedoms will most definitely be wiped out, and all that will remain is the Corporation.

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