No power or influence



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God will protect you; then do what is right!115
This study will suggest that it is hatred, not love, that drives religion to the state and impels it to pulpittize the public square. It is the fear-hatred matrix that is the root of the evil. This study approaches the subject of Mormonism in politics through the topics of faith vs. fear, constitutional law, obedience, secret combinations and Babylon, Book of Mormon politics, sex and patriarchy, sexual and ecclesiastical voyeurism, “spiritual” warfare, false ecumenism, and neo-Mormon doctrine as it has developed since the official “demise” of polygamy.116 It concludes that by coming into the public square, the church has subjected itself to ever-escalating debate and criticism that, probably for most Mormons, had better been left alone. The term “neo-Mormon” refers to the modern church which, in the aspect of many of its doctrines and practices, has evolved substantially away from the original practices and understandings of its founding in 1830 and first century of existence. The church has faced several major turning-points along that journey, but in terms of its sexual politics the most crucial was the official renunciation of polygamy. In recent times, the church has turned on their head the arguments and tactics used by its enemies a century ago to criticize and persecute other sexual minorities that it now finds unpleasant. This has been the price it has paid in exchange for its share of state power and prestige—the so-called “liberty that comes from writing the law.”117

Mormonism is especially problematic in this regard because in joining coalitions of other churches in state-seeking activities it assimilates itself to the program and tactics of what it considers to be an apostate Christendom, which it originally arose against and was designed by its founder Joseph Smith to deconstruct’ there has been no true unity of the faith118 but only the sharing of a common enemy. I will argue that this is a false and corrupt ecumenism. SSM, which the church makes contentious because, it alleges, is about the redefinition of “marriage,” is chosen for study in order to reveal that the contention is not and cannot be about marriage per se at all. After all, the Mormons, with their nearly century-long practice of polygamy, are the quintessential redefiners of “marriage” in the modern world.119 The two persons whom they consider to be the greatest men who ever lived—Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith120—were intense redefiners of words and meanings. Key words in Mormon theology that have redefined and therefore unique meanings include quorum, intelligence, marriage, family, and church. The contention today is primarily about language and the images that language creates, and about the way language is deployed to define gender and gender roles. The make-weight nature of such word-magic is illustrated in arguments such as this:


“What some dismiss as protecting ‘merely’ the word marriage is actually 90 percent of the loaf. If a married couple no longer consists of a husband and wife, we lose the shared meaning of the word, we lose the ability to speak the idea in public and be understood…. The opponents of marriage understand what many of its friends do not: Capturing the word is the key to deconstructing the institution.
“If the word marriage includes same-sex couples, we proponents of the marriage culture will be silenced in the public square because we will no longer have a word for the idea of marriage as we and our forebears have always under stood it….”121
The non sequitur contradictions of such arguments are particularly stunning when cited within the context of a Mormon discussion. The apocalyptic prediction of being “silenced in the public square” because a word receives an expanded meaning is indicative of the (il)logical problems and emotions this subject arouses. Surely, the history of this debate in the United States public square since Gallagher wrote her comments in 2003 has been anything but “silent.”

This subject, the relation the church to the state, is what Ernst Troeltsch has called the “last of the great social problems of Christianity.”122 R. Randall Rainey laments the “Enlightenment or liberal fundamentalists” who “oppose the nontheocratic presence of religion in the political life of the community….”123 It should be clear by this point that my argument in no way opposes the nontheocratic presence of religion anywhere, including the public square, but it does oppose the theocratic presence of religion everywhere. The best image of how this presence should operate passively is seen in the metaphors given by both Jesus and Paul: the salt that gives savor to the world124, and the leaven in the lump of dough.125

In Mormonism, faith is the very first principle of the gospel,126 a subject upon which Mormon leaders endlessly expound. I will argue that going to law in the cause of religion is an effort to make a public show of faith in order to be “seen of men”127 and to see who can outdo the other in being pious. It is what Mormon scripture refers to as being “puffed up (lifted up) in pride.”128 It is something not unlike the politically correct display of one’s patriotism by the wearing of an American flag lapel pin. This is what pristine Mormonism referred to as “priestcraft,” and its basis is fear—a sickening, debilitating fear that leads, among other things, to a profound desire to “theologize the law.”129 It is, in sum, an abject failure of faith. Perfect faith,130 resulting in the arrival of the perfect day,131 cannot admit of skepticism, which is the basic nature of the law. This is the essential conflict. The inevitable result of the conflict will be greater conflict as states and nations accept same-sex marriage and other ideas which the churches oppose—conflicts will grow between government and discriminatory organizations. As that rift grows, the will to power through politics will appear ever more appealing to the discriminatory organizations, and as this happens, the discriminatory organizations will experience greater loss of control.

In the context of something like SSM, this will result in the expression of abject fear—a true form of “homosexual panic”—and it is not hard to understand why this fear exists. Many Christians believe that in the secularizing shift within the history of the Christian and now post-Christian world, there is a distinctly bleaker vision of what politics is and what it means. They feel that in a culture without belief in the Biblical god it is difficult to conceptualize a plausible commitment to the public good or indeed that any citizen can be “good.”132 In any case, this paralyzing fear, or rather cluster of fears, compounded with the fear embodied in homophobia, xenophobia, and all the others phobias to which the religious in-groups are heir,133 results in a potent and corrosive situation. And yet the scriptural word to all Mormons is this: “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.”134 It echoes the Biblical word given to all Christians: “God has not given us the spirit of fear.”135 “Fear not” is one of the most common statements in the scriptures, and the first words uttered by the angel in the Christmas story.136 Fear is reified in current political discourse as “terror” and the “war of terror.” The problem with fear and terror is that they are destructive.137 The promise of the Christ is that “[i]in righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shall be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.”138

Given these promises, and the historical reality that often the “earth and hell” which combined against the first-generation Mormons was the law and the government, their appeal now to the law and the government is a rejection of the injunction to “fear not.” It is an admission of disbelief in the promises and in the power of the pulpit to persuade unaided by the power of the gavel and the sword. What is more, and what is worse, is that this fear destroys faith by denying the sovereignty of God. It is common in Mormonism to state that “man rules, but God over-rules.” One typical example of this language was spoken by Mormon Apostle Francis M. Lyman in 1884:
“But the Lord will over-rule all things for our good. He will sustain this Kingdom, and He will build it up in spite of all other kingdoms in the earth; for it is His right to do so. The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; and the peoples, the nations, and the kingdoms that are upon the earth, all belong to the Lord. We are His children, and He has the right to control and dictate in all the affairs of men. He has the right to over-rule the conduct of men to serve his purposes; to overrule the wars between the nations of the earth. He has the right to break down nations, to change the form of government, to cause revolutions, and in all things to do that which seemeth Him good. He has the right to do all this—just as He broke off the colonies from the mother country, and established religion liberty, thus making it possible for His Kingdom to be established upon this land.”139
The assimilation of religious liberty to political liberty in the context of “God overrules” is significant. The statement gives God the glory by recognizing what is God’s power and sphere of activity—“He has the right…..”140 But when men assume the powers of God and presume to act as God, they take to themselves these powers and glories. In other words, they display a “form of godliness but deny the power thereof.”141 As we shall see, this was the accusation that the early Mormons leveled against the other “apostate sects” of Christendom, but it has now become just as true of the Mormons in modern times.

Therefore, this study proceeds by examining the possible doctrinal and legal consequences of reading together several seminal prohibitory texts. They are the US Constitution’s two First Amendment “religion clauses” (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”), including the Jeffersonian “wall of separation between church and state,” the Constitution’s “religious test” clause (“[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”142), along with the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” and “privileges and immunities” clauses and the Biblical “golden rule”—all read in conjunction with a seminal Mormon scripture written by Mormon founder Joseph Smith: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned….”143 This reading-together of these fundamental texts is illustrated in this diagram:



No power or influence”


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