Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, June 30

The Book of Mormon, and the LDS and FLDS Situation

The Book of Mormon, and The LDS and FLDS Situation

In the Book of Mormon, we read of apostate groups, such as: the Amulonites, the Amalekites, the Zoramites, the Ammonihahites. The apostates living among the Lamanites had become much more hard-hearted than the Lamanites themselves. In fact, in the great Anti-Nephi-Lehi conversion, only one apostate living among them converted to the Church (Alma 23:14). Among the Zoramites, however, there were many who came back, just like in Ammonihah. It seems that while many, especially the leaders, wouldn’t let go, followers did.

The greatest apostate splinter group, however, was the Lamanites. (Ok, so technically maybe Laman and Lemuel never did truly believe–not that there wasn’t proof enough for them to do so…) For most of the history, the Lamanites were a large group, and the Nephites were small; the Lamanites were monogamous, and the Nephites so most of the time. The Lamanites had been taught false traditions about the Nephites, and hated them. The Nephites, however, had tried many times to convert the Lamanites, but to no avail. It was when Ammon and his brothers and brethren decided to go to the Lamanites that the conversions came. Interestingly, their friends told them that instead of going to preach the gospel to them, it would be best to remember the differences, remember the Lamanites’ sins, and take this opportune moment to destroy the yucky Lamanites (Alma 26). Instead, Ammon and his brothers and brethren went, and converted many. It wasn’t easy, but it happened.

(From what I have gathered, I have no doubt that the FLDS (Fundamentalists) aren’t God’s church; not just because I believe the LDS Church is, but for other reasons, too. I also have few sympathies for many of the FLDS leaders I’ve read about. Not that I’ve seen lots of court cases won against them, either…)

Perhaps the FLDS–leaders? members? hate or dislike the LDS Church, and maybe it’s even taught to the members. Or maybe it’s just part of the story, so to say. I guess that’s the worse case scenario, like with the Lamanites. I don’t know.

The LDS Church has recently shown goodwill to victims all over the world, particularly Christians in the southern USA and Muslims.

I wondered how far that goodwill would extend? Would it cover some FLDS, too?

From http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/church-seeks-to-address-public-confusion-over-texas-polygamy-group comes this quote:

“People have the right to worship as they choose, and we aren’t interested in attacking someone else’s beliefs,” Elder Cook said. “At the same time, we have an obligation to define ourselves rather than be defined by events and incidents that have nothing to do with us. It’s obvious we need to do more to help people understand the enormous differences that exist between our Church which is a global faith and these small polygamous groups.”

I’m finally glad the Church came out to say something like this (the whole article). In one way, the first part of the quote and much of the article is much better than all that has been said before.

However, I have a few problems:
1. Does “global faith” have anything to do with truthfulness?
2. Does “small (polygamous) group” have anything to do with truthfulness?
I sure hope not, for either. Otherwise, a little over 100 years the Catholic Church was true, and the LDS Church wasn’t!

I hope that’s not what he meant, right?

3. Is all that time, effort, and money to make people–the “hoi polloi”–“understand [we aren’t the same]”, really worth it and the best use of resources?
4. Was this the best message to play loudly at the time?

“We are not like them; we are just like you!” seems to be the message the Church wants to put out to everyone, with all the comments and the “normal” and “famous” people who are “achievers” appearing in the new videos about Texas members. It seems the Church is saying, “See, we have become more mainstream and acceptable, and we must use this new power to get you to join…” But is that true? It really makes me wonder what the Church’s vision is, and how the leaders and workers want the LDS Church to be seen in the media, and in the eyes of the people. I wonder if showing videos of poor people who have joined the Church, and how it has helped them, might be a better way to fish? I can’t help but think there might more converts that way…

In all of this, I have been waiting–like I waited during the great mess of Waco–for the Church to come out with another public statement; one containing words and phrases like “freedom of religion”, “governmental interference”, “habeas corpus”; or even to send money to the FLDS legal defense fund, or to take care of those who need help.

(Talk about what great PR that would be, eh?! Imagine LDS leaders holding a huge check for $10,000 – $100,000 and saying–at perhaps the *only* time many FLDS would be able to hear it, not locked up in their compounds avoiding non-FLDS according to their “commandments”: “Even though we, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons or LDS, believe that the FLDS are a (polygamy-living) apostate group that broke off from us long ago and is not connected to us, we are concerned with what they are going through; (maybe a political statement such as this could have been in here, too: that, due to nothing more than religious bigotry and a falsehood, children were seized from their parents, against Constitutional rights; in our past, we have had similar experiences; ) and we would like to tell them that others outside of their group are concerned about them (or maybe even “love them”) and their children’s welfare, and present them with this check for $100,000 to use towards getting the children back and getting them back on their feet…”)

It looks like I’ll have to wait as long as I had to for the Waco statement–forever.

The LDS Church has been–deservedly–crying foul for over a century for multiple harsh injustices condoned, allowed, and committed by local, state, and federal governments. We knew what it was like to be persecuted for polygamy, be falsely accused, have families threatened and broken up and fathers arrested and thrown in prison, etc. So it makes me think twice and shudder a little when I see things like this happen (Branch Davidians, FLDS) without LDS Church comment and statement. If we say nothing when things like this happen, how much of a right do we have to complain about yesteryears? And what about when it happens (and it will) in the future? Will we truly have cause to be surprised if no one says anything, if no one speaks out, if no one dares do anything?

Perhaps, though, the LDS Church’s response will be something similar to its response to Waco.

President Hinckley invited US Attorney General Janet Reno to attend the Freedom Fesitval in Provo, Utah–as his personal guest, I think. He even gave the prayer. (First time I’d ever heard a prophet pray?) No doubt this was a display–and more importantly–teaching evening for the person supposedly in charge of attacking the Davidians at Waco: “‘Without acknowledgment of Deity, without recognition of the Almighty as the ruling power of the universe, the all-important element of personal and national accountability shrinks and dies,’ said President Hinckley at the annual Freedom Festival in Provo, Utah, attended by more than 24,000 people on 29 June 1997 in Brigham Young University’s Marriott Center.’ ( http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=956e57b60090c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1 )

I don’t doubt that the Brethren are doing the best they know and can, and that God is guiding them. (Goodness knows, I have a hard enough time with just my family…) In fact, I think it’s with an eye for our safety that this type of approach is being taken. Is it because the LDS Church is still not quite out of the wilderness and can’t be open about certain things? But if not, why does it seem like we are thumping our chests in moments like these, with the FLDS? Or, perhaps Church members are slowing the leaders down and holding them back. Perhaps they would like to do differently, but feel it’s best to hold back at the current time. There’s reason that Jesus Christ didn’t start preaching until he was 30… Remember that many of those apostate rejoinings in the Book of Mormon also resulted in bloodshed and war.

Just that one day, I hope it all gets better, and the LDS Church becomes more like Ammon and his brothers and brethren, and less like their friends.


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