Section 13: The Mormons, Nationalism, and Politics
Before we begin, a few things need to be said. In this section, the author attempts to judge Mormons by the standard of ultra-pacifism embraced by Jehovah's Witnesses. To top it off, they attempt to make generalizations about Mormons mostly from a single, and singular, event: World War II. Few other Christian groups, if any, embrace ultra-pacifism. This may be because the Bible is filled with examples of violence that was sanctioned by God27, and He can command such things because He knows all things and is the ultimate arbiter of final justice.
Certainly, the Lord stopped the apostles from fighting when He was being arrested, but that was because He needed to perform the Atonement in order for us to be saved; He wasn't trying to stop it from happening. The "true pattern of Christianity" established in the Bible, it would seem, is one in which it is okay to fight for two reasons: 1) in defense, and 2) when God commands it. The Book of Mormon supports this position. The Guide to the Scriptures on lds.org says, under the heading War: "The Lord approves of war only as a last means for his Saints to defend their families, property, rights, privileges, and freedoms."
While God has not commanded any nations to go to war in these latter days, the people have been led several times to believe that they were fighting in the defense of others, including World Wars I and II. What is missing from this discussion is the fact that all nations were heavily propagandized by their governments to persuade them to enter these wars, and led to believe that they were just. LDS leaders tried to warn the people that this was taking place. In General Conference, Oct. 1941, Pres. J. Reuben Clark Jr. said:
I have warned you against propaganda and hate. We are in the midst of the greatest exhibition of propaganda that the world has ever seen. Just do not believe all you read or hear. The elect are being deceived1.
Despite the best efforts of Church leaders, some members still succumbed to the propaganda. One young German Latter-day Saint (Helmut Heubener, mentioned below) told his best friend, Rudi Wobbe:
The evil influence of Nazism, with its disregard of human rights and feelings, is making inroads even into the Church by changing people's priorities and loyalties28.
Mormons who found themselves in Germany during WWII were not only subjected to heavy propaganda, but their government was engaged in horrific acts that they were unaware of until it was too late. Then, they found themselves under intense surveillance in a regime that murdered people they merely suspected of "wrongdoing" or even just didn't like. While serving in a concentration camp himself, Rudi Wobbe had the following experience:
Rumors were going wild throughout Germany about terrible things happening at places like the Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen, and Auschwitz Concentration Camps. In spite of the veil of secrecy surrounding these places, we still learned much through the camp grapevine. Yet, many of the German people turned their heads and pretended they never knew what was going on in these death camps. Others were afraid to say anything, for fear of their own lives being endangered29.
Another Latter-day Saint, Adrian Hekking, lived through Nazism in the Netherlands during WWII. He said:
The Germans were ruthless in arresting “troublemakers” and making them disappear for good…
These anti-Jewish actions were but a preview of the mass deportation starting in the summer of 1942, and a portend of what would happen to any Dutch gentile who would oppose the regime, would not cooperate, or would simply happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time19.
In hindsight, it is easy for us to pass judgment, but the fact remains that the German people, in their ignorance, saw the Nazi Party as just another political party, and only learned of their terrible acts when the rest of the world did: during and after the war2. A friend of mine once owned a pre-WWII encyclopedia. The entry about Adolf Hitler contained nothing but glowing reports of his political achievements.
We must remember also that they lived in a less-connected world than we do now. Communication took much longer and was much more difficult. During much of WWII, German Mormons had little, if any, contact with their leaders in America. Adrian Hekking also described this aspect of life under the Nazis:
The 1930’s and 40’s, were really only hints of the electronic age. Most people like us had no telephones; not even the [church meetinghouse]. Businesses had them. The corner grocery store was used to make emergency calls. Phone booths were only found near city hall, the post office and railroad station. The Dutch had to walk great distances for everything to include reporting to the authorities in person because of Nazi red tape. Today, all we do is use the telephone for such matters.
Church policies and news were slow in arriving and being translated. Their arriving was totally stopped on December 6, 194119.
For all of these reasons, we would do well to judge the past with an eye of compassion.
The Mormons, Nationalism, and Politics
JOSEPH SMITH–prophet, seer, revelator, according to Mormon belief–was also mayor, treasurer, lieutenant-general, and U.S. presidential candidate. Following his lead, many Mormons are energetic political activists.
A list like this makes it seem as though Joseph Smith certainly was seeking for power, doesn't it? Facts, however, are friends of the Prophet. The Saints in Nauvoo elected their own city officials, selecting John C. Bennett as mayor, with Joseph Smith as vice-mayor. When Bennett was caught committing sinful and criminal acts, he was excommunicated from the Church and released from his position as mayor. This left Joseph Smith to fill that position for the remainder of the term3.
Was Joseph seeking power as president of the United States? Let's take a look at the historical record. To begin with, the Saints had been suffering murder, rape, arson, and a whole host of other abuses at the hands of fellow Americans for an extended period of time. They should have been protected in their Constitutional rights by those in authority, but they were not. After attempting to get help from President Martin Van Buren and being told that winning the votes of Missouri in the upcoming election was more important than helping the unpopular Mormons4, the Saints decided to find out if any presidential candidate would propose to help them:
In Nauvoo the Times and Seasons published an editorial on October 1, 1843, titled “Who Shall Be Our Next President?” It did not suggest any specific names but concluded that the candidate must be “the man who will be the most likely to render us assistance in obtaining redress for our grievances.” On November 4, 1843, Joseph Smith wrote letters to John C. Calhoun, Lewis Cass, Richard M. Johnson, Henry Clay, and Martin Van Buren, the five leading candidates for the presidency of the United States. Each letter described the persecutions the Mormons had suffered at the hands of the state of Missouri and then asked the pointed question, “‘What will be your rule of action relative to us as a people,’ should fortune favor your ascension to the chief magistracy?” Only Calhoun, Cass, and Clay responded to Joseph Smith’s letters, and they expressed little sympathy for the cause of the Saints.
When the Prophet realized that none of the leading candidates for the presidency would pledge to support redress for the Saints, he held a historic meeting in the mayor’s office at Nauvoo on January 29, 1844, with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and others. It was unanimously decided that Joseph Smith would run for president of the United States on an independent platform4.
Was it power the Prophet was seeking, or an end to the Mormon Holocaust?
And, despite the article's assertion to the contrary, NOT "many Mormons are energetic political activists," though, thankfully, there are a few. What are they doing? Generally speaking, they are defending faith, marriage, and family against the agendas of radicals in their cities, states, countries, and the United Nations.
The church is proud of its American heritage and asserts that God directed the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Brigham Young said: "When… the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flagstaff of Liberty and equal rights, without a spot."
The LDS Church does not assert anything about the Constitution. This was revealed by the Lord Himself in D&C 101:80:
I established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.
This is not "nationalism." Just as God gave special land to the Jews while they were righteous, America is a Promised Land that was set aside by the Lord for those who would keep His commandments. When the inhabitants become wicked, they lose the Lord's protection and are destroyed. It's that simple. Nationalism says "Hooray, our country's the greatest!" no matter what, but being a "choice land" comes with a lot of responsibility, and requires humility and obedience. God inspired the Constitution to protect the rights that He gave all men–a protection that is not found anywhere else on earth! All people are free to come here and enjoy those rights. This is also not nationalism. We are not excused from attacking other countries, only in defending ourselves. This is also not nationalism.
When the Lord returns, "the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied" not because we're "the greatest nation on earth," but because it stands for our God-given rights.
Article 12 of the Articles of Faith states: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."
If all people were righteous, respectful, and God-fearing, there would be no need for secular government because the Lord's Church governs itself.
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
However, under the Eternal Plan all men are free to choose. With consequences established, even God will not take away from us that agency that He has given us. Therefore, the only way to be just is to rule by the voice of the people. This is what Mormons believe in.
1 Sam 8:4-7
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel…And said unto him…Give us a king to judge us… And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…
How far does their subjection go? When the United States entered World War I, Elder Stephen L. Richards affirmed: "There is no more loyal people to the government of the United States than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
First of all, I must object to the use of the word subjection which, according to my Mac computer's built-in dictionary, implies allowing someone to have control over you. Contrast this with the word actually used by Elder Richards–loyalty–which is defined as "a strong feeling of support or allegiance," and you have the actual, unexaggerated, position of the Latter-day Saints. Elder Russell M. Nelson shared the same sentiment when speaking at the 1993 Parliament of the Worlds Religions:
We encourage our members to be upright and loyal citizens in the countries that give them citizenship and to uphold governmental leaders and obey the civil laws wherever they live5.
Latter-day Saints are encouraged, though, to take a stand against laws they believe are incorrect or unjust:
Through the years of the history of this work, there have been occasions when the Church and its members have come up against the law of the land. In such times, we have taken a stand in the courts. In those instances where the courts have ruled against us, although the ruling was difficult to bear, we have accepted it and conformed to it. Obedience to law, when that law has been declared constitutional, is incumbent upon the Latter-day Saints6.
In his speech, "A Moral Challenge to the West – A World Wide Battle," President Ezra Taft Benson advised, however, that there is a limit to the amount of unjust laws (whether or not they have been "declared constitutional") that we should endure:
I say to you with all the fervor of my soul that God intended men to be free. Rebellion against tyranny is a righteous cause.
The Lord said:
And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you—
According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
Pres. Benson said that Latter-day Saints "must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers."7 Because our modern judges and lawmakers have begun to determine, in their own judgment, that all kinds of wickedness are now "constitutional," many Latter-day Saints are among those who use the original God-inspired Constitution as the standard by which to determine the Constitutionality of laws. In the end, the important overriding principle is contained in the final verse just quoted: moral agency. No Latter-day Saint–indeed, no man at all–will be forgiven by God for his actions with the excuse "He made me do it!" or "I had no choice!" We always have the final say. Not the Church, and not the government, for "every man [will] be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment."
"When we fight we will conquer by the power of God," said another elder.
If a reference were provided here, I could address this. But, I am unable to do so without a proper context for the comments. True, we will "conquer by the power of God," if we are fighting according to God's rules of engagament as laid out in the scriptures.
Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.
But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands8.
This standard, of course, places in question most of the United States' military actions for the past century. Have we actually been fighting for the liberation of ourselves/others? If not, will the Lord condemn those who believed they were? If you are fighting to defend someone else, are you justified in leaving your own boundaries, as the U.S. has? The Book of Mormon suggests another way to handle this situation (see Alma 27:2-12).
Article 12 applied on the other side of the battlefield as well. Professor Christine E. King of Staffordshire University wrote: "German Mormons were encouraged to bear arms for their country and to pray for her victory."
I am going to assume that this "Professor Christine E. King" is the Christine King listed on Wikipedia as the author of The Nazi state and the new religions: five case studies in non-conformity. In the few chapters of this book that are available to read online (posted on an unofficial Jehovah's Witness website, by permission of the author), she displays an obvious disdain for Mormonism and is suspiciously positive about only the Jehovah's Witnesses9.While the religious preference of Prof. King is unknown to me, it appears that her book may have been the source for this entire article!
It has been previously noted that Latter-day Saints believe in obeying the law, even if that includes serving in the military. Likewise, being encouraged to pray for those serving in the military, as many do even today, does not equate to praying for their victory, though the members themselves might choose to do so.
Well, the church itself as an institution does not involve itself in politics nor does it permit the use of its buildings or facilities for political purposes10.
“Christ’s Church should not make war, for the Lord is a Lord of peace. He has said to us in this dispensation:
“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace …” (D. & C. 98:16)
“Thus the Church is and must be against war. The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing —by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.” (Grant, Clark, and McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 94.
The Church of Jesus Christ cannot and does not favor the initiation of war in any form11.
While wars may blaze about us, and governments disagree and plot, "we seek to improve the world by changing the hearts of individuals."12 So, we strive to live and share the Gospel as we "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." (Matt. 22:21) Elder Dallin H. Oaks, former Utah Supreme Court Judge and Constitutional scholar said:
Citizens should also be practitioners of civic virtue in their conduct toward government. They should be ever willing to fulfill the duties of citizenship. This includes compulsory duties like military service and the numerous voluntary actions they must take if they are to preserve the principle of limited government through citizen self-reliance13.
We Mormons also do not run from the sinner, but rather stay and serve in the hope that they will change. That is why Mormons can be found all over the world, instead of flocking to Utah. Here are just a few examples of LDS experiences during World War II:
Reed Bradford, a young LDS missionary, feared his life was at an end that day in 1933. Four men viciously beat and kicked him because he had declined to salute the swastika flag of Nazi Germany14.
"Our father, the branch president, had resisted the Nazi party and his artistic skills had been put to work in a government mapmaking office far away from us."15
In World War II, I was a soldier for my country [Germany] for five years. For a time, I was in charge of guarding Russian prisoners. These prisoners had to work very hard. I remember one man in particular–a teacher who was able to speak a little German. I tried to help him as much as possible in my position. I remembered the words of the Savior that we should love our enemies. The teacher and others I had command over showed me their thankfulness by trusting in me and by calling me their father. A short time later, I was transferred to the Russian front where a few of us were captured and put into a Soviet prison. We were sentenced to be shot the next day. A soldier came to bring us out of prison and take us to a bunker, where we were to be guarded until our execution. To my surprise, the soldier was the teacher–the same man I had befriended a short time before when we were in quite the opposite position. Now I was the prisoner. He recognized me and said, You, good man, helped us–now I will help you, too! He came to us in the night and let us out of the bunker. He took us to an area close to a German encampment and let us go free. My life was spared, I believe, because I had tried to follow the words of the Savior16.
The church said they were fighting, not British and American Mormon brethren, but government representatives.
Was this so?
For the Saints this is a fratricidal conflict, the First Presidency said of the war, for LDS soldiers again fought on both side17.
According to Webster's Dictionary, fratricide means "the act of killing one's brother." It was openly recognized that there were members on either side, and it is obvious by this very phrase that this was lamented. While reflecting on the ongoing Iraq war, Pres. Hinckley had this to say:
I hope that the Lord’s people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties18.
The Church is made up of people who are individuals, and the Church does not force them to do or not do anything. Members are free to choose for themselves what actions they believe are best.
Such a distinction, although transparent, served to salve the moral and religious doubts of German Mormons.
Were the German Saints having "moral and religious doubts?" Who had these doubts? What were the circumstances? How did the author come by this information? This is the sort of information that should be provided for us in a "fact-based" article. Otherwise, it is only assertion and hearsay.
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Adrian Hekking, the Dutch Mormon who lived through WWII, shared the following, which illustrates the love and brotherhood prevalent among the Saints during the war:
Our branch was also attended by at least two LDS German servicemen. One was in the Kriegsmarine (their navy) the other, in the Army. Both appeared to be good members and were invited to speak during Sacrament Meeting… As a token of our love and friendship towards German members, we would sing a hymn from the Dutch hymnal whose melody was the same as the German national anthem and our current Hymn # 46, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”. After the war we would sing the hymns known in English as, “Our God we raise to Thee” and sung to the same tune as, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” for Americans, and “God Save the King” for the English.
The events right after the War, when the Dutch saints [who had been starving to death during the war] had planted and raised potatoes for themselves, is ample evidence that their love for their fellow German saint was for real. When the potatoes were ready for harvest, the Church requested they send a part of them to Germany for the saints, and… for other Germans as well. They gladly did this and continued for several years. After the first year, they even sent herring to a starving Germany.
When Hitler seized power, the Mormon policy of wholehearted support continued. "The Nazis met no resistance or evidence of criticism from the Mormon church," wrote Dr. King.
I have already provided evidence to illustrate that this is a false allegation, but I will provide more here. First, though, we must point out, again, that the Church is strictly non-political. They might speak out against bad policies, or, more often, promote good ones, but the Church has not spoken out against any political organization ever, that I am aware. Neither did the Church give the Nazis "wholehearted support." This is another interesting tale that might be better illustrated had the author provided us with evidences or, at the very least, references. My own research shows the opposite:
Many people having suffered from a decade of unemployment were willing to accept any employment, even if it were German. Among these were members of the church. There were even two LDS construction contractors in Utrecht who started to work for the German military. They remained active and faithful in the Church and did a lot of good for the members, especially in the last, dark days of the occupation. Nevertheless, opinions of them among the saints remained mixed…
In fairness, I must add that [one of these collaborators] was also rumored to be a member of the Dutch underground, that he was involved in some resistance raids and that the military installations he constructed were built not to last very long when subjected to heavy attacks19.
Mormon stress on racial purity and patriotism served the church well, and to many Mormons, "the links between their faith and the politics of the Third Reich were clear."
This is pure, unadulterated, slander, without foundation. "[R]acial purity" is not now, nor ever has it been, an LDS doctrine. Pres. Hinckley said:
The work of this organization [the church] is so urgently needed in a world that is weary of strife and hatred. How very heavy is the burden of human suffering, the suffering that comes of war; of so-called ethnic cleansing; of conflict in the name of religion; of foolish ideas of racial superiority; of intolerance, bigotry, and egotism20.
My current ward has members who are Japanese, White, Black, Native American, Filipino, and Mexican. There was even a Scottish guy, until he moved a few months ago. In most places I have lived, it has been the same. Oh, did I mention that the two Black guys are married to A) a Filipino woman, and B) a White woman whose parents also attend the same ward? Boy, you can't imagine the chaos this causes each Sunday, as we don our Nazi armbands and try to kill each other. Or not.
When several Mormons dared to defy Hitler, they received no backing from Mormon officials. "The church was patriotic and loyal and decried any attack on the Nazi government."
There were lots of Mormons who defied Hitler, and none of them received backing from the Church. Why? Well, although what they did was right, the Church does not get involved in politics! End of story.
The church even excommunicated one dissident posthumously after the Nazis had executed him. Helmut Hubener was reinstated in 1948.
The Church did not excommunicate him, his local leader did, although I'm not sure whether it happened before or after he was murdered by the Nazis. In his book, The Price, Helmut's best friend and co-conspirator against the Nazis, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, informs us:
Huebener [was] excommunicated from the LDS church by a branch president who feared Nazi reprisals on members of the Church…30
This leader was not authorized to do this, and the proper procedure–including hearings before a Church council–was not followed. Once the Church found out–after the war and his death, unfortunately–it was corrected. I can truthfully say that it goes against Mormon theology to excommunicate a dead person. In Mormonism, excommunication is used as a form of discipline, not a punishment21. Time spent without the Holy Spirit, and without the blessings of Church membership, usually leads an individual to repentance and rebaptism. Once an individual dies, this process would be pointless.
How different from those lauded in The Book of Mormon at Alma 26:32: "They had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren."
This is a lovely example of cherry-picking from a book that the author is sure his or her reader is unfamiliar with. Anyone familiar with the Book of Mormon is well aware that it is filled with examples of righteous warfare, just like the Old Testament22. The example mentioned here is the exception among the accounts given, and definitely not the rule. In fact, the group spoken of, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, had become converted to the Gospel and decided to bury their weapons as a part of their repentance process. They move into the land of the Nephites to escape their Lamanite enemies, and the righteous Nephites protect them.
And it came to pass that the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land, desiring the voice of the people concerning the admitting their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance.
And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren lest they should commit sin; and this their great fear came because of their sore repentance which they had, on account of their many murders and their awful wickedness23.
Twenty to thirty years later, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis (now known as the people of Ammon) realize that their Nephite protectors are really taking a beating in their behalf, so they consider breaking their oaths of non-violence. They are convinced not to, "lest by so doing they should lose their souls," but they realize that their sons have not taken the oath. Thus begins one of the most-loved stories of all Mormondom: the two thousand stripling [young] warriors, a band of righteous young men who fight a seasoned army and are protected by the Lord. You can read all about this beginning in Alma 53:12-18. Not exactly what you were being led to believe by this article, is it?
In Deut. 20:10-12, the Bible tells us:
When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
The commandment has always been "Thou shalt not kill." (Ex. 20:13) Historically, however, we know that the Lord makes allowances when necessary: Samson (Judges 15:15), David (1 Sam. 17:49), the Israelites, etc. The people of Ammon set an awesome example when, overcome with compassion and charity, they covenanted with God that they would never kill again, in hopes of being forgiven for murders committed prior to being baptized. Later, they felt the need for self-defense "to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires. For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy." (Alma 43:9-10)
As for Extreme Pacificism, Elder Dallin H. Oaks had this to say:
It is surprisingly easy to take what should be our first devotion and subordinate it to other priorities. Fifty years ago, the Christian philosopher C. S. Lewis illustrated that tendency with an example that is distressingly applicable in our own day. In his book The Screwtape Letters, a senior devil explains how to corrupt Christians and frustrate the work of Jesus Christ. One letter explains how any extreme devotion can lead Christians away from the Lord and the practice of Christianity. Lewis gives two examples, extreme patriotism or extreme pacifism, and explains how either extreme devotion can corrupt its adherent.
"Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the cause, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of pacifism. … Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing"24.
While this article has endeavored to accuse Mormons of extreme patriotism, I have shown that this is not the case. In the February 1991 edition of the LDS magazine, Ensign, Larry E. Dahl speaks about Killing and Anger, referring to Matt. 5:38-42, and 3 Ne. 12:38-42:
Here the Lord is revoking the law of retribution that he had given to the spiritually immature Israelites centuries before. (See Ex. 21:23-25.) Instead of exacting eye for eye, tooth for tooth, we are to turn the other cheek, give more than is required by law, go the second mile willingly after being compelled to go the first, and lend to those who ask.
Is this a call for complete servitude and submission to any and all demands of others? How literally and to what extent should we apply these instructions today? If someone is attempting to hurt us physically–even to destroy us–shouldnt we resist in self-defense? Didn't the Lord say that all men are justified in defending themselves … from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded? (D&C 134:11.)25
Jesus reasoned with Pilate: "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews." (John 18:36, King James Version) His disciples were not to take up arms in defense of God's own Son, let alone in a war between governments. They were to love their enemies.- Matthew 5:44; 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
I quote Jesus once again, in saying: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matt. 22:21) If the Jews had been under civic obligation to serve in the Roman army, this would have fallen into the same category as the taxes he was referring to.
More importantly, though, let's re-read the scripture provided in the article: "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews." This passage does not say, "Never ever fight, ever!" It means, as I said earlier, that Jesus did not want his Apostles to protect Him from the Jews because the whole reason He came to earth was to suffer and die for us! If they had interfered, this would not have happened! Or, it would have happened later, but the Apostles would not have been alive to keep the Church going for as long as they did.
Love our enemies? Of course! But if we allow the wicked to destroy us, "wherewith shall the earth be salted?"26 The scriptures make it clear that there are things worth fighting for.
When we understand our relationship to God, we also understand our relationship to one another. All men and women on this earth are the offspring of God, spirit brothers and sisters. What a powerful idea! No wonder God’s Only Begotten Son commanded us to love one another. If only we could do so! What a different world it would be if brotherly and sisterly love and unselfish assistance could transcend all boundaries of nation, creed, and color. Such love would not erase all differences of opinion and action, but it would encourage each of us to focus our opposition on actions rather than actors24.
There are true Christians today who have kept strict neutrality individually and as a group. Said the book Mothers in the Fatherland: "Jehovah's Witnesses had since their foundation stood resolutely apart from any state." Therefore, during Hitler's reign of terror, they, "practically to a person, unequivocally refused to render any form of obedience to the Nazi state."
Though thousands of them were martyred, Jehovah's Witnesses took to heart the words of Jesus: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."- John 13:35, KJ.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
- J. Reuben Clark Quotes on Freedom, America, Constitution, Liberty… (Latter-day Conservative) (http://www.latterdayconservative.com/articles/j-reuben-clark-quotes-on-freedom-america-constitution-liberty/)
- See, for example, the following (WARNING: GRAPHIC!) videos:
- Original Nazi Concentration Camp Video Uncensored - part 2 (YouTube) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz65pzbi2r4)
- Locals brought to witness atrocities at Dachau concentration camp in Germany, see...HD Stock Footage (YouTube) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X50vImqi3gU)
- Germans are taken on tour to Buchenwald (YouTube) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52swR3dRkjs)
- Nauvoo City Officers chart, Joseph Smith Papers Project. (http://josephsmithpapers.org/bc-jsp/content/jsp/images/content/library/pdf/chart11.pdf). See also Chapter Twenty One: Growing Conflict in Illinois, Church History In The Fulness Of Times Student Manual, (2003), 263–271. (https://www.lds.org/manual/church-history-in-the-fulness-of-times-student-manual/chapter-twenty-one-growing-conflict-in-illinois?lang=eng&query=nauvoo+legion+joseph+smith)
- Joseph Smith: Campaign for President of the United States, Arnold K. Garr, Department Chair, Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, Ensign, Feb. 2009. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/02/joseph-smith-campaign-for-president-of-the-united-states?lang=eng)
- Combatting Spiritual Drift—Our Global Pandemic, Russell M. Nelson. Address given at the 1993 Parliament of the Worlds Religions, Chicago, Illinois, 2 Sept. 1993. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/10/combatting-spiritual-drift-our-global-pandemic?lang=eng)
- "Keeping the Temple Holy." Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1990. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1990/04/keeping-the-temple-holy?lang=eng)
- Our Divine Constitution, Ezra Taft Benson, General COnference, Oct. 1987. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/our-divine-constitution?lang=eng)
- 3 Nephi 3:20-21.
- For instance, in chapter 7 of The Nazi State and the New Religions (posted with permission of the author at Jehovah's Witnesses United), the author suggests that Mormons had no problem with the antisemitism of the Nazis because "their teaching was already racially discriminative." Think about the "logic" here: Mormons believe God said Blacks can't have the priesthood, even though they get full membership in the Church otherwise, so that means they'll be okay with killing Jews. Such non-thinking causes me to question the author's authority on the subject matter. Later, she suggests that Mormonism "disguises the individual, millenial and totalitarian nature of its teaching and organisation" by allowing members to engage in "public life." Does it get more bizarre than that? What should we do? Tell everyone to stay home? I thought totalitarian organizations took complete control over their members… If that's what the Church was, wouldn't they try to stop the members from "engaging in public life?"
- Transcript: National Press Club Q&A with President Gordon B. Hinckley (Deseret News) (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/155008723/Transcript-National-Press-Club-QA-with-President-Gordon-B-Hinckley.html?pg=all)
- “Why Should I Be Willing to Go to War If Called by My Government?” (Case Study), Renounce War, Proclaim the Gospel of Peace Lesson 39: Sections 98-99, 106, 108, Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 77–78. (https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-instructors-guide-religion-324-325/renounce-war-proclaim-the-gospel-of-peace-lesson-39-sections-98-99-106-108?lang=eng)
- Full text: President Hinckley's speech at the National Press Club, Deseret News, Mar. 8, 2000. (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/155008580/Full-text-President-Hinckleys-speech-at-the-National-Press-Club.html?pg=all)
- "The Divinely Inspired Constitution." Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign. Feb. 1992, 74. Emphasis added. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/02/the-divinely-inspired-constitution?lang=eng)
- "A Life at the Hub of the Wheel." Norman R. Bowen, Ensign. Sept. 1991. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1991/09/portraits/a-life-at-the-hub-of-the-wheel?lang=eng)
- "Berlin Miracle." Karola Hilbert Reece, Ensign. Oct. 1978. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/10/berlin-miracle?lang=eng)
- "Glimpses of My Grandpa." Bruce Crandall, Ensign. Mar. 1994, 28. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1994/03/glimpses-of-my-grandpa?lang=eng)
- "The Church Grows in Strength." William G. Hartley, Ensign. Sept. 1999. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/09/the-church-grows-in-strength?lang=eng)
- "War and Peace" by Gordon B. Hinckley, April 2003 General Conference. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/04/war-and-peace?lang=eng)
- SAINTS UNDER NAZI TERROR. THE NETHERLANDS: 1940-1945 by Adrian Hekking. (http://www.mvgcontact.org/SaintsUnderNaziTerror.htm)
- "News of the Church." Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign. May 1995. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/05/news-of-the-church?lang=eng)
- A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings by M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, Sept. 1990. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/09/a-chance-to-start-over-church-disciplinary-councils-and-the-restoration-of-blessings?lang=eng)
- Warfare in the Book of Mormon, Ed. by Stephen D. Ricks, and William J. Hamblin. (http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/book/warfare-in-the-book-of-mormon/) This book is available to read online.
- Alma 27:21-23.
- "Powerful Ideas." Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign. Nov. 1995, 27. Emphasis added. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/11/powerful-ideas?lang=eng)
- "The Higher Law." Larry E. Dahl, Ensign. Feb. 1991, 10. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1991/02/the-higher-law?lang=eng)
- 3 Nephi 12:13.
- War, Topical Guide, scriptures.lds.org. (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/tg/war?lang=eng&letter=w)
- Three Against Hitler, by Rudi Wobbe and Jerry Borrowman, Covenant Communications, Inc., American Fork: Utah, 1992, pg 31. (http://deseretbook.com/Three-Against-Hitler-Jerry-Borrowman/i/4459376)
- Ibid., pg 102.
- The Price (BYU Studies) (https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=7705)